2018 Birmingham Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
A Power Five-Group of Five challenge.
Alabama does not get cheated out of bowl season, the state or the Crimson Tide. The 2018 Birmingham Bowl is one of several within the confines of the Yellowhammer State.
This is the heart of both Dixie and SEC Country, but there are no SEC teams taking the field in Birmingham. In 2018, it will be the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC taking on the Memphis Tigers of the American. The Group of Five and the Power Five meet in this contest, but who will win it?
2018 Birmingham Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Saturday, December 22, 2018, 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT)|
|Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$1,650,000 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Memphis is a 3.5-point favorite|
2018 Birmingham Bowl: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
|6-6 (3-5 ACC); 5th in ACC Atlantic|
|Best Win: NC State|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 39th, Total Offense 33rd, Rushing Offense 25th, 3rd Downs 36th, Time of Possession 104th, Turnover Margin T-87th, Sacks Allowed T-95th, Red Zone 68th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 102nd, Total Defense 116th, Rushing Defense 91st, Opponent 3rd Downs 101st, Sacks Per Game 88th, TFL Per Game 61st, Interceptions T-117th, Opponent Red Zone 129th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-17th, Punts 67th|
2018 Birmingham Bowl: Memphis Tigers
|8-5 (5-3 American); American West Division champions|
|Lost American Championship Game to UCF|
|Best Win: Houston|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 7th, Total Offense 4th, Rushing Offense 3rd, 3rd Downs 11th, Time of Possession 89th, Turnover Margin T-44th, Sacks Allowed T-39th, Red Zone T-17th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense T-91st, Total Defense 84th, Rushing Defense 72nd, Opponent 3rd Downs 80th, Sacks Per Game T-28th, TFL Per Game 14th, Interceptions T-89th, Opponent Red Zone T-50th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 36th, Punts 61st|
2018 Birmingham Bowl: Head-to-Head
The Birmingham Bowl will be the fifth meeting all-time between Memphis and Wake Forest.
These schools have split their all-time series, 2-2. All four games were played within a four season span between 1964 and 1967. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Birmingham Bowl: Pick
Wake Forest is a program that had a stretch of being a doormat. Even in their first few years under Dave Clawson, winning remained foreign to the Demon Deacons. By his third year, the Deacs figured out how to win again and now aim for their third bowl win in a row. This year, Clawson’s team has an offense that busted into the 50s on four occasions. You might think that a powerful offense does such things, and that it translates into a lot of wins.
That’s where you would be wrong, because Wake went 6-6. Their defense is what held them back, and Memphis is more qualified than most teams in the country to exploit that. The Tigers have a top-ten offense in FBS, which is difficult enough for Wake to handle, but the Deacs’ defense does not have much on them at all. Memphis is better at running the ball than Wake is at stopping it, better at converting third downs, better at preserving their quarterback in an upright position, and better at converting on opportunities. Just because Memphis is a Group of Five team does not make them an easy out against an ACC squad.
Wake has had an impressive win or two, NC State and Duke, while Memphis can at least say they beat Houston and lost to UCF by a point. The Tigers can hang with Wake Forest; the question is if Wake Forest can hang with them? Neither defense is great but Wake’s is worse, and Memphis shows more ability to move the football. Tigers quarterback Brady White has demolished the competition this year, throwing for 3,125 yards to date in leading an offense that averages over 530 yards per contest.
There are scenarios in which Wake wins; for example, the Memphis offense sputters like Middle Tennessee’s did. That’s not our pick.