Act two of a doubleheader day in the USFL sees Ford Field’s primary spring tenant return home for the second weekend in a row.
Showboats Battle Panthers Saturday in Detroit
Saturday, the winless Memphis Showboats (0-3) travel to The Motor City to play the Michigan Panthers (2-1). Memphis nearly defeated the Houston Gamblers last weekend, while Michigan was soundly defeated by the New Jersey Generals on Sunday. NBC Sports will carry the game live immediately following post-race coverage of the Kentucky Derby at 7:30 pm ET/ 6:30 pm CT.
IT’S GOIN’ DOWN 🗣️‼️
Get ready for an iconic weekend in @PureMichigan as we celebrate Saturday Night Football in the D!
Due to the ongoing Writers’ Guild of America strike, this week’s planned episode of Saturday Night Live will not be performed. Therefore, NBC will stay with the USFL game through its completion.
Had the new SNL episode, which was to have been hosted by Pete Davidson, aired as scheduled, an NBCUniversal-owned cable network would have picked up the remainder of the game in the event that it extended beyond 11 pm ET. NBC enacted this policy in the wake of games in the original XFL running beyond three hours in 2001, covering new episodes only.
This is the first head-to-head meeting between these two teams. As is customary with NBC-aired USFL games, this one is streamed live on its subscription-based platform, Peacock.
Nice Night for a Drive to Ford Field
Even though Ford Field is a domed stadium, there will not be any weather concerns for the fans organizing a tailgate party. Saturday night’s forecast calls for cloudy skies and temperatures in the 50s by the time the final whistle sounds.
If you’re going to the game, take a light jacket. You’ll need it for the ride home.
Memphis Showboats vs. Michigan Panthers Betting Odds
As of Thursday night, the oddsmakers have the homestanding Michigan Panthers installed as a -6 1/2-point favorite on the spread and a -278 favorite on the money line. Memphis counters as a +205 underdog on the line.
If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening in the USFL this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Showboats Last Winless Team in USFL
To say that it’s been a rough start to the USFL season for the visiting Memphis Showboats would be the understatement of the year. They’ve sputtered out of the starting blocks to an 0-3 record.
By virtue of the Houston Gamblers’ come-from-behind victory against the Showboats last weekend, they enter the fourth week of action as the final winless team in the league. They need a win and they need a win now.
A change at quarterback almost sparked a win last week. Brady White, who began the season at quarterback, didn’t factor into last Saturday’s game.
Instead, Cole Kelley, a former Southeastern Louisiana University product, received starting duties in week three for Memphis, throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Had it not been for Kenji Bahar‘s efforts on the Gamblers’ last drive, this would have been good enough to win.
So, this begs the question of whether or not Kelley starts under center for Memphis again this week. If Cole Kelley gets the nod at QB in Detroit this Saturday night and throws for 300 yards again, the Showboats have a decent shot at coming away with their first win of the year.
Showboats Defense Has to Apply Pressure
There are some question marks on the defensive line for the Showboats as they prepare for the Saturday night game versus the Panthers. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Memphis defense sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times.
Last week, however, the Gamblers’ offensive line was stout, allowing Memphis’ defense to record only one sack. Nine sacks total through three games might appear to be good on the stat sheets, but the one sack last Saturday is an obvious outlier.
If the Memphis D-line is unable to create pressure against Josh Love this week, they won’t have a chance. It’s as simple as that.
Last week, however, it was a trying time for the quarterback, who only registered 101 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Throughout a football season, quarterbacks will have days like the one Josh Love had on Sunday.
Can he rebound this week? Tune in on Saturday night and find out.
Panthers Defense Looking to Bounce Back, Also
Much like the Memphis Showboats vs. Houston last week, the Michigan Panthers also had trouble pressuring the quarterback. Generals QB DeAndre Johnson only was sacked once. This is a far cry from the eight sacks Michigan registered heading into week three.
Safety Corrion Ballard notched seven tackles in Sunday’s game, tying him with his teammates Sean Mahone and linebacker Noah Dawkins for the lead in that category. It all starts with bringing the heat up front.
One question remains: Can the Panthers defense restore the roar that it had for the first two weeks?
One aspect of this game that we haven’t talked about, however, is the fact that Houston has had a full week to prepare, while Michigan’s only had six days to get ready to play. How much will the short week affect the Panthers, if at all?
Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and a better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.