Sunday, the eyes of the auto racing world are on two US cities. Early in the day, the famed Gasoline Alley in Indianapolis will be humming for the Indy 500, while later that evening, Charlotte plays host to NASCAR’sCoca-Cola 600.
While most of America will be fixated on fast cars (and we’re not talking about the Tracy Chapmansingle from decades ago), fans of the gridiron will have their attention focused on Memphis and Canton for another doubleheader day in the USFL. Sunday’s action begins in Tennessee for a South Division showdown.
Gamblers Face Showboats to Begin Sunday’s Action
The Houston Gamblers (4-2), co-owners of the best record in the league, look for win number five on the season when they play the other hub tenant at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, the Memphis Showboats (3-3). Both squads are coming off of victories last weekend.
If the Houston vs. Memphis game had to be played on Saturday afternoon, rather than Sunday, the weather would be a concern. Saturday’s forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms to cross the region.
However, no such weather concerns exist for the middle day of the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend in Memphis. Current forecastsare projecting a sun-splashed day. Temperatures are expected to be around 78 degrees about a half-hour prior to the opening kickoff.
Afternoon highs will top out at 80 degrees with a northeast breeze at five to 10 MPH. Precipitation chances stand at nine percent.
Houston Gamblers vs. Memphis Showboats Betting Odds
As of Friday afternoon, the oddsmakers currently have the Houston Gamblers installed as a -3 1/2-point favorite on the spread and a -167 favorite on the money line. Memphis counters as a +130 underdog on the money line.
The over-under is set at 43 1/2 points. If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening in the USFL this weekend, please wager responsibly.
When Last They Met…
Much like the firsttwogames of this weekend in the USFL, this Houston/Memphis tilt is a rematch from earlier this year. It was week three when they met for the first time.
That afternoon, the Gamblers picked up their first win of the season, 30-26. Quarterback Kenji Bahar passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns en route to the victory.
How will the second game of the season series play out? Let’s break these squads down.
Can Justin Hall Replicate His Efforts from Week Three?
A week ago versus New Jersey, Hall led all Gamblers receivers with six catches for 59 yards and no touchdowns. He’s had at least six receptions in four of the team’s last five contests.
Hall was limited to just three receptions on May 6 against the Philadelphia Stars, his second-lowest total of the season. In addition, this is a wideout who’s been kept out of the end zone since week three.
With Bahar back at full strength after an ankle injury, can Justin Hall have a big game again on Sunday? Tune in and find out.
Gamblers’ Lake Has to Blitz
It’s been a long road for Gamblers defensive back Dayan Lake to get to where he is now. The BYU product had been away from the football field since the end of the 2019 season, prior to joining Houston’s active roster this year.
Since then, he’s made up for lost time, including a productive day last Sunday afternoon, where he notched a season-high six solo tackles. With the season nearing its end, now is the time for Lake to make a name for himself.
If he can cause disruptions up front against the Showboats and sack Memphis quarterback Cole Kelley, Houston can shut Memphis down. The Showboats played tough last week, however.
Memphis Has to Give Derrick Dillon a Lane
Perhaps the biggest highlight from last week’s slate of games was delivered by Memphis wide receiver/ returner Derrick Dillon. Ironically, before Maulers placekicker Chris Blewitt missed a 59-yard field goal attempt just before halftime, play-by-play commentator Jac Collinsworth, son of Cris, who was working the game for USA Network, cautioned that Dillon is explosive.
“You don’t want to leave this short if you are Chris Blewitt, who has been a great find for them in the special teams game,” Collinsworth said. Upon the field goal being missed, Dillon ran the ball back 109 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
All Dillon has to have is just one lane. If he’s able to get a sliver of daylight, he’s gone.
Look For Troy Warner to Have Decent Afternoon
When you look at the potential impact players on defense for the Showboats going into Sunday’s game, one man that has to be shortlisted is Troy Warner.The former BYU Cougar is in his first season in the league.
Up until last weekend, he had yet to pick off a pass in his professional football career, but he finally intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback James Morgan in the fourth quarter of the game to put the contest on ice. With his first pick in the bag, one has to believe that he’s hungry to step in front of a wayward pass again this week.
If Warner has a decent day over the weekend, his NFL stock could rise again.
In terms of preparation for the game, the homestanding Showboats are going to be the stronger team heading into week seven, given that they had an extra day to get ready. Memphis has had eight days between games, while Houston has had only seven.
Will the extra day do the Showboats good? Tune in and find out.
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.