Tigers clinging to hopes for division title Memphis in a must-win situation against SMU this weekend
Memphis got the defensive effort they have been looking for all season against Tulsa, and with back-to-back wins under their belt, will look to possibly improve the quality of their upcoming bowl game with a win against SMU.
The Tigers (6-4, 3-3) travel to Dallas this week to take on the Mustangs, who are coming off a big win against UConn and will be looking to earn their third straight victory and become bowl eligible for the second straight season.
Tigers Head Coach Mike Norvell said it will take the team’s best effort to beat a very talented and impressive SMU squad. SMU has won three of their last four home games, while Memphis has lost three of four on the road.”It’s an impressive team,” Norvell said in his weekly press conference. “This is a team that has played at a high level. Right now, they are first in our division. They are coming off scoring 60 points last week. You can tell they have improved each week. They have played in close games.
They are battle tested.
They are going to make their plays.”Memphis became bowl eligible for the fifth straight season with a 47-21 win over Tulsa last Saturday at Liberty Bowl.
Norvell said the Tigers played their most complete game of the season against Tulsa. The offense, defense, and special teams did all of the necessary things according to the game plan, he said.”I think you are starting to see us play our best football,” Norvell said.The defense especially game up big for the Tigers. Memphis defense entered the game against Tulsa ranked 87th in the country and had been torched for more than 350 yards by their opponents in their last three games.The Tigers ‘D’ had 11 tackles for a loss, sacked Tulsa freshman Quarterback Seth Boomer five times, and held Tulsa to a season low 112 yards rushing and 252 total yards.It was also the first time since the season opener against Mercer that the Tigers held an opponent scoreless in the first half.
Norvell said that the team is playing at a high level now as they look to close out the season.†”We’re performing better,” Norvell said.Offensively, the Tigers continue to put up impressive numbers. Memphis has not scored less than 30 points in their last five games.Darrell Henderson rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns, and became the second running back in Tigers history to surpass 3,000 yards. Henderson has 1,46 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.Patrick Taylor aded 96 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and Damonte Coxie had six catches for 110 yards, his third consecutive 100 yard performance.
Quarterback Brady White was 14-of-20 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and has two or more touchdown passes in six of his last eight games.
Friday’s matchup will be a big game for SMU. The Mustangs (5-4, 4-2,) can win the AAC West with a win over Memphis and on the road against Tulsa.
SMU beat UConn last week 62-50 in a game that featured 1,174 yards of offense. The Mustangs have scored a combined 107 points in their last two wins.Memphis though, is 8-1 in November under Norvell, and have beaten the Mustangs four straight games by a combined score of 228-62.”Friday night is going to be another huge one for us,” Norvell said.
“We’re playing a very talented team. We have to focus on ourselves and make sure we are playing the best brand of football that we can and continue to improve each and every week. We’ve got to make sure that we are in the right position, that we’re playing with relentless effort and pursuit. And when we have an opportunity to make a play, we’ve got to make a play. If we do that, I really like our football team.”
By Mark Randall