July 18, 2024

The 65th AutoZone Liberty Bowl is Here! 

The 65th Autozone Liberty Bowl is Here! 

What a week of festivities in preparation for tomorrow’s 65th AutoZone Liberty Bowl between the Memphis Tigers and Iowa State Cyclones. From the game announcement to this week’s team practice, weekly press conferences, and fun at Dave and Busters by the teams to today’s parade down legendary Beale Street, it’s been an eventful week around Memphis, Tennessee. As we have discussed in our coverage, this game has an excellent history, a web of connections, and a tremendous statistical matchup, in addition to promotions and returns. There is one thing left to do, and that’s pick the winner. First, let’s take a quick trip down our coverage and touch on some topics to get caught up.

Give Me Liberty!

 We start with the game itself, which has many historic moments. The first game played in 1959 between Alabama and Penn State in Philadelphia was the original idea of founder Ambrose “Bud” Dudley. After five seasons in Philly, this game would move to its new home in Memphis, Tennessee. 

While in Memphis, this game has seen some historical moments. The 1982 game would see the final game of Paul “Bear” Bryant as the Crimson Tide head coach. This moment, plus others, such as the 2007 record crowd of 63,816 fans who would watch an instant clash between Mississippi State and UCF. Most fans will remember the overtime thriller between Arkansas and Kansas last season. Could tomorrow’s matchup be another classic in this game’s rich history? Let’s take a look at some stats for the 2023 matchup. 

Stats And Such

This week, Memphis and Iowa State have been involved in practice as they prepare for each other. As we discussed, this game features talented players who have accomplished many stats on the season. To further this point, Memphis and Iowa State both score at a good pace. The Tigers average just under 40 points per game at 39.2. The Cyclones average roughly 26 points per game at 26.3 on the season. These numbers, combined with such tats as rush yards per game, the Tigers hold the advantage of 150.8 to 129.9, and this game looks to have fireworks in numerous ways. 

Players such as Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan will be displayed for the nation to see. The Cyclones’ defense will challenge Henigan and the Memphis offense. As discussed in the Wednesday press conference, the Cyclone’s unique defensive scheme, combined with the program being very disciplined, has the attention of Tigers offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey. In his conference, the defense coordinator, Jon Heacock, spoke on the talent and explosiveness of the Tiger’s offense. 

Speaking of defensive coordinators, we learned on Tuesday that Memphis linebackers coach Jordon Hankins had been promoted to interim defensive coordinator of the Tigers. Hankins would meet with the media and discuss various topics, including this promotion. In this conference, Hankins would speak with confidence and readiness for this game. More than himself, he would talk in this manner about the defensive unit.

More Than A Game

Of all the week’s events, Wednesday was a special moment that will last a lifetime. Players from both programs would visit St. Jude Children’s Hospital and spend time with the children and their families. The relationship between the bowl and the hospital is one of the most unique experiences of all 43 bowls. As much as the game is exciting, seeing the smiles, laughter, and pure joy on the faces of all during these visits makes the game, in a way, secondary. 

When the game is completed, and the trophy has been passed out, the memories made at the hospital will last far longer than the final score. As we watch the game unfold, let’s not forget those who see the players on the field as much more than athletes. Some are heroes for the young people and their families of a gift from god, and that is St Jude Children’s Hospital. 

Prediction Time

As we said at the beginning, it’s been quite the week in Memphis as we wind the week down; tomorrow, with gameday, it’s time for a winner prediction. After deep-diving into this matchup through stats and more, the prediction hasn’t been easy. As discussed this week, these teams have previously met in this bowl. In that matchup, the Cyclones would come out as the victors. In the 2023 version, we see things ending differently. We have the Tigers winning 38-31 over the Cyclones

– Photo Credits – Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

Further reading

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