The Memphis Tigers host the No. 25 ranked University of Central Florida Knights this week in a must-win game for both squads.
UCF (6-2, 3-1 AAC) is vying for a spot in the AAC Championship game, needing the win to maintain their standings. The Knights tied for second place with Cincinnati and Houston. While Memphis (4-4, 2-3 AAC) is eliminated from this season’s championship race, the Tigers have more than pride on the line in this matchup. Memphis can finish fifth or better in the conference by winning and qualifying for a bowl game.
Can the Tigers pull off an upset against UCF, or will the Knights ride out of Liberty Stadium with the victory? Read on to find out this week’s prediction for the Memphis Tigers.
What Memphis Needs to Do to Win
East Carolina laid out the blueprints for stopping the Knights earlier this season in their 34-13 victory over UCF. The Pirates jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first half, recovering a fumble and intercepting Knights QB John Rhys Plumlee on back-to-back drives to score on three straight possessions.
After halftime, UCF cut the lead to seven before East Carolina went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter to put the game away. The Knights committed four turnovers against the Pirates while forcing no ECU turnovers.
To beat the Knights, Memphis must create pressure and turnovers on defense. The Tigers need DL Cormontae Hamilton to create havoc Saturday. In his last three games, Hamilton has 3.5 sacks, and three QB hurries to his credit, giving the Memphis native a team-best total of 5.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and six QB Hurries in 2022.
Quindell Johnson and the defensive backfield must also shut down UCF’s deep passing game. Johnson is second on the team with 52 tackles, but the senior defensive back leads the Tigers with three interceptions and three pass deflections.
Home-field advantage will also play into the Tigers’ favor this weekend. With homecoming activities planned for this weekend, Memphis expects a loud and rowdy crowd for this game. On the road this year, the Knights are merely 1-1, beating Florida Atlantic as their only win away from FBC Mortgage Stadium.
Who Will UCF Start At QB
One area of uncertainty is who will start for the Knights during Saturday’s game. Plumlee left their victory over Cincinnati last week in the second quarter from a hard hit. Sophomore Mikey Keene replaced Plumlee, going 15-for-21 with 176 yards through the air without an interception or touchdown.
UCF coach Gus Malzahn was noncommittal this week when asked if Keene or Plumlee would start, leaving open the possibility Keene could start over a healthy Plumlee. The Knights did not limit the playbook with Keene behind center, but UCF relied on shorter passes to effectively move the ball in the second half.
Keene is also significantly less of a running threat than his senior counterpart, allowing the Tigers to employ blitz packages that will disrupt the Knights’ passing attack.
What Is Going to Happen
Memphis will start fast like the team has multiple times this season. Expect the Tigers to take a 21-14 lead into halftime by creating a second-quarter turnover to score the go-ahead touchdown. Fans should expect an energized passing attack keyed by QB Seth Henigan in front of the large homecoming crowd.
Memphis will jump to a 35-14 lead in the third quarter behind another Knights turnover. While most teams would fade away, UCF has made every game they’ve played this season a close affair, coming back in the fourth quarter behind Keene’s brilliant play. The Tigers – who have lost games after taking leads of 17 and 19 points in two separate games this season – finally finish strong against UCF.
Final Score Prediction: UCF 34, Memphis 38
Show Your Support
Support the great work of the Strike 7 Sports Memphis Tigers Section by purchasing licensed NCAA fan gear. Items ranged from Memphis hats, jerseys, t-shirts, socks, and so much more. We would greatly appreciate it if you would purchase these items from the text link below. The revenue generated from today’s offer goes into the funding of the Strike 7 Sports platform. Click on the link below if you are interested.