Tuesday night's Boca Raton Bowl could very well be one of the most entertaining games of the bowl season. Western Kentucky from Conference USA and Memphis from the AAC will meet in a matchup of a pair of high-powered offensive attacks that should result in a shootout.

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Date: Tuesday, Dec. 20
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: FAU Stadium -- Boca Raton, Florida

Live streams: WatchESPN / WatchESPN apps


Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers are in the always awkward situation of playing for an interim coach in Nick Holt after Jeff Brohm left for Purdue. New coach Mike Sanford from Notre Dame won't take over until after the bowl game, so it will be interesting to see if the coaching change has any effect on the Western Kentucky offense that was second in the nation in scoring this year (45.1 ppg).

If the transition with Holt as the coach in the bowl game is smooth, the Hilltoppers have plenty of talent on offense and figure to put up big numbers on Memphis. Junior quarterback Mike White took over this season and threw for over 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns as he replaced Brandon Doughty. His favorite target was Taywan Taylor, who had 89 catches for 1,586 yards (second in the nation) and 16 touchdowns, while senior running back Anthony Wales became the workhorse in the backfield and rushed for 1,376 yards and 24 touchdowns (second in the nation).

All that talent should be able to overcome the challenges that come with a coaching change, but the bigger question is whether Western Kentucky's defense can slow down Memphis enough to pull away as nearly 5-point favorites and get a cover.

Memphis: The Tigers' defense ranks in the bottom half of the nation in rushing and passing defense, so their best bet in this game is to turn quarterback Riley Ferguson loose and make this a shootout. The oddsmakers expect that to be the case with the point total set at 79.

Ferguson took over after Paxton Lynch departed for the NFL and played well, throwing for 3,326 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His favorite target was Anthony Miller, who had a huge year with 84 receptions for 1,283 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ferguson and Miller should have plenty of opportunities to create big plays against a Western Kentucky defense that was 110th in the nation against the pass (268.7 ypg).


Anything other than a high-scoring, one-possession game late in the fourth quarter would surprise me. I think both offenses will have plenty of success, and although Western Kentucky's offense was more prolific this season, I think the Tigers will keep pace thanks to the Hilltoppers' weak pass defense. When in doubt, I take the points in a game like this, and for that reason, I'm on the Tigers plus the candy. Pick: Memphis +4.5

Boca Raton Bowl Expert Picks
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Dennis Dodd
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Jon Solomon
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Jerry Palm
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Chip Patterson
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Tom Fornelli
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Robby Kalland
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Ben Kercheval
Western Kentucky -4.5