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Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic 2019 – #10 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. #17 Memphis Tigers

Lion Defense Could be Difference-Maker

Cotton Bowl Pick 12/28/19 - Betting Odds & Preview Penn State/MemphisOur 2019 Cotton Bowl pick offers Penn State at -7.0. This Cotton Bowl prediction has an over/under of 60.5. This game will be played on December 28 along with the Camping World Bowl, CFP Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl featuring #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson, and CFP Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with #1 LSU vs. #4 Oklahoma. The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, offering the Penn State Nittany Lions vs. the Memphis Tigers, will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas at 12:00 pm ET.

The #10 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) finished second in the Big Ten East with a record of 7-2. They were flanked by the #14 Michigan Wolverines who finished third with a 6-3 mark, and by the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes who won the division with a perfect 9-0 record. Our 2019 Cotton Bowl pick notes that the #17 Memphis Tigers (12-1) finished first in the AAC West with a 7-1 record. The Tigers played the #21 Cincinnati Bearcats, who had finished first in the AAC East also with a 7-1 mark, for the conference championship. In the title game, the Tigers beat the Bearcats to take the American Athletic Conference crown.

2019 Cotton Bowl Pick – Regular Season

Penn State won their first eight games, which included victories over #17 Iowa and #16 Michigan. On November 9, two weeks after they beat the Wolverines, the Nittany Lions suffered their first loss. #17 Minnesota beat them 31-26. In their final three games, PSU went 2-1, beating Indiana and Rutgers and losing to #2 Ohio State 28-17.

The Memphis Tigers won their first five games, which included a 35-23 win over Navy. On October 12, Memphis lost their first and only game of the season. The Temple Owls nudged them 30-28. A string of seven wins followed. Included was a 54-48 beating of #15 SMU and two straight wins over the Cincinnati Bearcats. In the first victory, which marked the final game of the regular season, the Tigers beat the #19 Bearcats 34-24. Then a week later, Memphis played the #20 Bearcats and beat them 29-24 for the AAC title.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Memphis Tigers – Stats

The Nittany Lions are scoring 34.3 PPG and allowing just 14.1 PPG. The Tigers averaged 40.5 PPG and held opponents to 24.4 PPG. Penn State averaged 402.2 offensive YPG. Included are 228.7 passing YPG and 173.5 rushing YPG. Memphis recorded on average 480.7 YPG. Of those yards, 284.5 were passing and 196.2 were rushing.

On defense, PSU is holding teams to 330.2 YPG. Of those defensive yards, 97.7 were ground and 232.5 were through the air. On defense, the Tigers gave up 372.3 YPG. They’re giving up 200.7 YPG in passing and 171.6 YPG on the ground.

Penn State at Memphis – Players

Penn State utilizes a sound pass attack and an active running game. Their defense is tight, aggressive, and tough. The have a fine pass rush and ably force fumbles. Memphis certainly has productive pass and ground attacks. PSU has to slow them down. Penn State’s defense is certainly good enough to do so. On the other hand, the Memphis defense could be outmatched in this contest.

Penn State Nittany Lions

For the Lions, QB Sean Clifford commands the offense. Clifford has 2,521 passing yards and 374 rushing yards. He’s thrown 22 touchdown passes and rushed for five more scores. Clifford’s tossed six picks, been sacked 20 times, and is completing 59.5% of his passes. His two favorite pass catchers are WR KJ Hamler and TE Pat Freiermuth. Hamler, who has 54 receptions and eight TD grabs, has accumulated 858 receiving yards. Freiermuth, who’s made 41 catches and crossed the goal line seven times, has a total of 468 receiving yards. RB Journey Brown has run for 688 yards and 10 TDs on 113 attempts. RB Noah Cain has six TDs and 351 yards on 69 attempts.

This 2019 Cotton Bowl pick observes that the Nittany Lions bring a very effective pass rush to the field. Of their 39 sacks, Yetur Gross-Matos has recorded 8.5 and Shaka Toney 6.5. The Lions have defended 47 passes, grabbed nine picks, and forced 20 fumbles, recovering 12. Corner John Reid has grabbed two INTs and defended seven passes, while safety Jaquan Brisker has two INTs and three PD.

Memphis Tigers

QB Brady White leads the explosive Memphis offense. White, who’s passed for 3,560 yards, has thrown 33 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He’s been sacked 21 times. WR Damonte Coxie has 68 catches, 1,144 yards, and nine TDs. Wideout Antonio Gibson comes to this game with 32 receptions, 636 yards, and eight catches. Kenneth Gainwell leads the ground attack. He’s accumulated 1,425 rushing yards and 12 scores on 222 attempts.

The Memphis defense has 32 sacks, 38 PD, 10 INTs, and nine FF with eight recovered. Bryce Huff and Joseph Dorceus have six and five sacks respectively. DB Jacobi Francis and has defended eight passes and made one pick. Tigers’ tackle-leader with 69, LB Austin Hall, has accumulated 2.5 sacks, six PD, and one pick.

Five Keys to the Game

This 2019 Cotton Bowl pick finds the following are keys to this game:

  1. Tigers’ balanced attack can challenge opponents
  2. PSU defense must control line of scrimmage
  3. Doubts abound regarding Memphis defense
  4. Penn State ground game is potent
  5. PSU is aggressive on D and can create scoring opportunities.

Our 2019 Cotton Bowl Pick

Our 2019 Cotton Bowl pick notes that the Lions have to slow down the Memphis attack. If they can’t. they’re liable to lose. PSU’s stingy defense should impede Memphis for a bit. But we expect the Tigers, who have a lot of offensive weapons, will break through at some point. We’re taking the over in this one at 60.5. We don’t think that the Nittany Lions will cover. We’re taking the Tigers at +7.0.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Pick – Summary

Memphis Tigers at +7.0 and over 60.5


Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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