If you're old like me and remember watching Saturday Night Live back in the 70s, then you are familiar with Leonard Pinth-Garnell. The Dan Akroyd character was part of a recurring sketch called 'Bad Playhouse,' and that is certainly an appropriate background to lay for a Big East contest taking place this Saturday.
A couple of bad football teams go at it at Rentschler Field where the Memphis Tigers and Connecticut Huskies are scheduled for a kickoff a little past 1 PM (ET). It's the first time the two teams have met on a gridiron, and would no doubt generate a lot more interest nationally if they were playing on the hardwood, which they will do at least twice early next year on the American Athletic Conference basketball schedule.
Of course, even when two bad squads meet, there's always interest from a betting angle regardless of how poor their two records might be. In this case, the betting angle will come in the form of Memphis backers laying a point on the road. SBR's live college football odds will have a total for the game.
Another Losing Season Coming To End For Memphis
Bad football is nothing new to Memphis in recent years, and the Tigers (3-8 straight up, 6-5 against the spread) are faced with needing a win in Saturday's finale to just duplicate the 4-8 record they had in 2012, Justin Fuente's first season as head coach. The Tigers have had just one winning record the last eight years, that coming in 2007 when they eked out a 7-6 mark.
Memphis has had some close calls along the way, including 7-point losses to both Central Florida and Louisville who are a combined 13-1 in AAC action heading into the final week. But the Tigers have also laid a couple of eggs, including last week's 41-21 setback at home to Temple who was winless in conference play until then. Memphis was favored by 8 points and managed less than 230 yards of offense, all while surrendering more than 530 to an Owls team that was averaging under 390 per game entering the fray.
A lack of offense has been behind Memphis' struggles all year. Only 10 teams are averaging fewer yards per game than the Tigers (316.5 ypg), with just 15 scoring less points (20.4 ppg). At the root of that is a unit that has turned it over 25 times and an offensive line that has allowed the same number of sacks.
Redshirt Paxton Lynch has guided the Tigers at quarterback all season, tossing just eight touchdowns and being picked off nine times. Senior Brandon Hayes will be closing out his collegiate career on Saturday, and needs just over 100 yards to reach the 1,500 rushing yards plateau for Memphis.
UConn Out To Close Campaign On 3-Game Streak
TJ Weist inherited a mess when he was named interim head coach of the Huskies (2-9 SU, 4-7 ATS) in September after previous chief Paul Pasqualoni was canned. For starters, Weist was only in his first season as offensive coordinator, so he's pulling double-duty right now. And he's doing so with a program that has been in steady decline after a Fiesta Bowl appearance at the end of the 2010 campaign.
Point to just about any statistic, and you'll find Connecticut near the bottom of the rankings. The Huskies are scoring even less frequently than the Tigers (18.4 ppg), rank 188th in total offense (298 ypg), have allowed 41 sacks (120th) and are giving up more than 32 points per game (95th). But to their credit, the Huskies have won the last two times out after opening the season 0-9.
As you might imagine this time of year, it's going to be on the cool side of the thermometer in East Hartford. The weatherman is calling for Saturday's high in the mid-to-upper 30s, partly sunny skies and little to no chance of rain.
A toss-up between two lousy teams, each using inexperienced quarterbacks and unable to put points on the board? I'm going with the theory that Memphis basically blew its wad in the tough loss to Louisville two weeks back, and if the Tigers couldn't get up for a home game against Temple after that, they probably won't have much snap for a road trip to Connecticut. The Huskies plus a point are being added to my college football picks.
My pick: UConn +1 at Bet365