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Memphis vs. Tulane: Week 8 Preview

AP Photo/Nick Wass/Sports Illustrated.

When the Memphis Tigers travel to New Orleans to face the No. 25 ranked Tulane Green Wave, more than bragging rights will be on the line for the two schools. The winner of this game will have a leg up to reach the American Athletic Conference (AAC) championship game.

For the Tigers, winning every game left on their schedule is the only way Memphis can reach the conference’s final game of the season. Back-to-back heart-breaking losses to Houston and East Carolina leave the Tigers needing a strong finish to the year if the school is to climb to the top of the conference. Even then, Memphis will need to have luck on its side to achieve its season goal.

For Tulane, this is the first time in over 25 years the Green Wave has been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. At 3-0 in AAC play, Tulane can ill afford to lose this game if the Green Wave aims to claim their second conference championship since 1949. Looming games against UCF and Cincinnati make every game leading up to the season finale a must-win situation.

Will Tulane or Memphis be able to string together enough plays to come out on top? For the Tigers to pull off the upset, Memphis has three areas of emphasis heading into this matchup.

1. Get Off To A Fast Start

Tulane has held the lead at halftime in five of their seven games. The Green Wave drown opponents from the start and constantly pound them in the second half with their potent rushing attack.

Memphis has had the lead going into halftime the last two weeks and five of their last six, save the 3-0 score at intermission with Temple. The Tigers cannot allow Tulane to start fast and build momentum into the second half.

2. Establish The Run Game

As a by-product of leading most games in the second half, Tulane has called run plays 57 percent of the time. That statistic was higher earlier this season as the Green Wave preferred to use the rushing attack to set up their passing game.

Memphis must establish their run game to provide QB Seth Henigan the same opportunities. RB Asa Martin should receive a heavy workload, allowing the senior to capitalize on Tulane’s weakness on defense. The Green Wave have surrendered 175 yards or more on the ground in three of their seven contests, giving the Tigers a chance to establish the run game.

3. Get To Michael Pratt

In Tulane’s close games, defenders could create pressure on QB Michael Pratt. Opponents have sacked Pratt 17 times through seven games, but more than half of that total came against the Green Wave’s last two opponents – East Carolina and South Florida.

The Tigers need a big game from DL Cormontae Hamilton. The Memphis native leads the team with 3.5 sacks and five QB Hurries, and Hamilton can disrupt his opponents’ backfield. The Tigers also need DL Jaylon Allen to add to his 40 tackles on the year.

Game Prediction: Memphis 24, Tulane 27

The Tigers will take a 17-10 lead into halftime against the Green Wave. After trading touchdowns in the third quarter, Tulane will tie the game midway through the fourth quarter. After a Tigers three-and-out, Michael Pratt storms the Green Wave down the field in the final minutes, setting up the game-winning field goal with under two minutes to play.

Tulane has been a better second-half team this season and is the more-complete team compared to Memphis today. And the Tigers’ recent collapses against quality competition late in the game do not bode well for Memphis heading into this AAC contest.

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