On Thursday, my colleague, Connor O’Gara, rolled out the first entry in a 12-part series predicting every College Football Playoff participant in the upcoming season. At No. 12, O’Gara has Memphis making the CFP and becoming just the second Group of 5 school to make the postseason tournament since its inception in 2014.

The Tigers enjoyed a 10-3 season last fall, their first double-digit win season of the Ryan Silverfield era. Now going on Year 5, Silverfield has his best team. Quarterback Seth Henigan returns alongside 4 of his top 6 targets from last season. The Tigers also added South Carolina running back Mario Anderson to the backfield to round out what should be a strong offensive unit in 2024.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) isn’t as high on Memphis, giving Silverfield’s group just a 7.9% chance to reach the CFP. Boise State and UTSA have a better chance, per FPI. The Tigers have just a 0.4% chance to go unbeaten in the regular season, with FPI projecting 7.8 wins.

In addition to a road game against Florida State on Sept. 14, Memphis has its biggest conference games on the road. It goes to South Florida on Oct. 11, to UTSA on Nov. 2, and then closes the season at Tulane on Nov. 28.

While a team from the G5 level probably doesn’t have to go unbeaten to reach the CFP anymore, the reality is still harsher for that level than for those in the Core 4. Ole Miss can lose 3 times and still make it in. If Memphis loses 3 times, it likely doesn’t have a chance.

Plus, the Tigers have to worry about others elsewhere at the G5 level. Boise State is a trendy pick to make the CFP. Liberty could very well go unbeaten against its Charmin soft schedule in the regular season.

In the 12-team CFP, an automatic bid is held for the highest-ranked G5 champion. For a G5 team to get an at-large bid, it would need to do quite a lot. Memphis’ best path is winning the American with 1 or 2 losses on the ledger and a good showing against FSU.

That’s perfectly plausible.

In Bill Connelly’s post-spring SP+ projections, Memphis was the second-highest-ranked G5 team behind Boise State. The Tigers’ rating of 7.2 was only 0.6 points behind Boise, so the margin between the 2 is pretty slim.

Connelly’s projections — which factor transfers into returning production — forecast Memphis to have the ninth-best offense in the country and the 102nd-ranked defense.

As O’Gara put it, Memphis has a Playoff path because of its offense.

Earlier this month, I wrote about why Boise State and Appalachian State both provide value to bettors as Playoff picks in 2024. I did not include Memphis in that piece, but there are some interesting props on the board at DraftKings right now that are worth considering.

The Tigers’ win total is set at 9 flat on DraftKings, with the over carrying +120 odds. That’s an implied probability of 45.5%

Using preseason SP+ numbers, Memphis would be favored in 11 of its 12 regular-season games — the lone exception being Florida State. It would be at least an 8-point favorite in 9 of its 12 games and have an expected win total of 9.6.

That’s roughly a half game better than Tennessee’s projected 9.2 wins using the same calculations. And, at DraftKings, bettors can lay a wager on Memphis to finish the regular season with more wins than Tennessee that pays out $200 on a $100 bet.

I’d be all over that prop, regardless of whether or not I believed Memphis was going to the CFP. The Tigers have a much cleaner path to 10 wins than UT, which has to play Oklahoma, Alabama, and Georgia.

DRAFTKINGS SPORTSBOOK APP

States: NY, NJ, PA, CT, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NC, NH, OH, OR, TN, VA, WV, WY

GET THE APP

SIGN-UP BONUS

BET $5
GET $150

BET NOW!

Memphis has +600 odds to make the CFP over at FanDuel. Only Liberty (+550) has shorter odds as a G5 school. After what happened in the Fiesta Bowl last season and considering what is on the schedule in 2024, the Flame don’t really have a shot at the CFP unless Memphis and Boise State and several others bomb out.

Among the G5 contenders, Memphis is looking like the safest pick. I think UTSA and App State (+(both +1400 at FanDuel) have some sleeper value, but no one else in the field has the kind of floor Memphis does. Boise State is Boise State, but the Broncos will be breaking in a first-time starter at quarterback and that’s on the heels of a 6-loss 2023 campaign.

Henigan has 36 career appearances and 1,277 career pass attempts for Memphis. He has produced 85 total touchdowns in 3 years and thrown interceptions at just a 1.8% rate.

If you agree with my colleague that Memphis is the pick from the G5 ranks to make the CFP, Caesars currently has the best price. Bettors can get Memphis to make the CFP at +650.

CAESARS SPORTSBOOK

+1K REWARD & 1K TIER CREDITS

GET THE APP
CODE: SDS1000
CODE: SDS1000
SIGN-UP BONUS

$1,000

FIRST BET BACK OFFER

BET NOW!