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Memphis approach bowl eligibility with a win over Tulsa

Photo credit by Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports.

Hopes of playing in the AAC championship game are entirely out of the picture for the Memphis Tigers. However, there’s still a lot to play for this season. Heading into the game against Tulsa, the Tigers were two games away from becoming bowl-eligible for the ninth consecutive year. Memphis was also on a four-game losing skid which dates back to a 19-point collapse against Houston.

Game Recap

The Tigers were able to respond after Tulsa recovered a fumble by tight end Caden Prieskorn that placed them deep into Memphis territory.

Tulsa only came away with a field goal conversion, giving them a 3-0 lead over Memphis. The Tigers responded with a 68-yard TD strike from QB Seth Henigan to wide receiver Javon Ivory. Memphis would build a 17-point lead on the Golden Hurricane going into the half. The second quarter was much of the same concerning productivity on offense.

The Tigers were able to get deep into Tulsa territory once again but only came away with three points. The lead would increase to 20 as the game head into the fourth quarter. They would pull away with a 26-10 victory over Tulsa. The Memphis defense did not allow a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard-receiver, or 200-yard passer in Thursday’s game against Tulsa. Neither of Tulsa’s QBs eclipsed 100-yards passing against the Tigers’ pass defense. Memphis is now back to .500 on the season with a 5-5 record. Their next opponent will be at home against North Alabama. Here are a few takeaways from Thursday’s performance against Tulsa.

The Running Game Could Not Dominate A Struggling Tulsa Rush Defense

Tulsa has one of the worst rush defenses in all of college football. Their inability to stop the run was one of the areas in which everyone believed the Tigers could succeed in Thursday’s game. However, that was not the case. None of the Tigers’ running backs approached at least 60 yards rushing against a dismal Golden Hurricane run defense. In total, the Memphis ground game ran for a total of 79 rushing yards. If head coach Ryan Silverfield wants to establish a potent rushing attack, he must invest heavily into rebuilding the offensive line. A solid ground game is only good as its offensive line.

The Offense Remains Stagnant

Overall, the Memphis Tigers’ offense has been a unit that has clawed its way to success this season. The fact that they struggled with an awful Tulsa team shows you how much of a grind it is for this group to put up points. The lone bright spot for the Memphis offense on Thursday was a wide receiver, Javon Ivory. The Memphis wideout caught seven passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. His 68-yard touchdown reception was the only highlight of Thursday’s game. Ivory’s 123-yard performance was the Tigers’ third 100-yard output by a Memphis wide receiver this season.

Asa Martin’s three-yard touchdown score in the second quarter was the final trip that the Tigers made into the endzone. The rest of the scoring came from field goal attempts. Lou Groza Award semifinalist Chris Howard converted on 49, 31, 44, and 32-yard field attempts. It wasn’t too long ago that pundits recognized the Tigers’ offense as one of the nation’s best units. But currently, a void of talent in certain areas has placed a ceiling on a once high-powered offense.

The Defense Took Advantage of a Bad Tulsa Team

Tulsa is a really bad football team. If head coach Phil Montgomery wanted to save his job, those hopes probably faded away last night. The Memphis defense stifled the Golden Hurricane to only 207 yards of offense. The unit also had two takeaways in Thursday’s 26-10 victory over Tulsa. Before that, the defense had only recorded two turnovers during their four-game losing streak.

What Lies Ahead?

Now that the Tigers are back to .500, the next goal is to become bowl-eligible for the ninth consecutive year. They must get past a North Alabama team that recently fired their head coach to accomplish that. The game against North Alabama will also be Senior Day and the Tigers’ final home game of the 2022 season.

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