It wasn’t too long ago that the eyes of the college football world were on the city of Memphis. ESPN’s College Gameday had selected Memphis for their weekly pre-game show during the 2019 season. The Tigers were hosting the SMU Mustangs, who were undefeated and had aspirations of taking sole possession of the American Athletic Conference. Memphis would defeat SMU 54-49.
The Tigers would takedown Cincinnati twice and become AAC champions for the 2019-2020 season. The following year, Memphis would lose a nail-biter to SMU 30-27. Fast-forward to the current season, and both teams are going in different directions for the time being. SMU steamrolled through its first seven opponents.
The Mustangs beat Abilene Christian 56-9, North Texas 35-12, LA Tech 39-37, TCU 42-34, South Florida 41-17, Navy 31-24, and Tulane 55-26 over their first seven games. Their most recent game was a 44-37 shootout with the Houston Cougars. However, the result did not play in their favor as they lost their first game of the season. As for Memphis, injuries to the quarterback position and having an ineffective defense have cost the Tigers games that they had opportunities to win.
All that is left now for the Tigers to accomplish is to finish the season strong and return to playing in a bowl game. Freshman quarterback, Seth Hennigan’s status is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game versus SMU. He suffered a shoulder injury in the Tigers’ victory over Navy. The following week against UCF, backup Peter Parish was the starter, and the offense was a shell of itself. For Memphis to have a chance of winning Saturday’s game, Henningan’s presence must be on the field.
They must attack the Mustangs’ inability to defend the pass. SMU is currently ranked 111th in the nation in passing defense. Regarding the Memphis defense, they must figure out a way to build up a consistent pass rush and rattle quarterback Tanner Mordecai. The Mustangs o-line has only allowed five sacks this season, which ranks as the third-fewest in the country. Applying pressure to Mordecai will be an important key for the Tigers winning Saturday’s contest.
However, it could be a difficult one due to Memphis only having six sacks on the season. Along with attacking SMU’s weak secondary, a balanced approach will be needed to secure a victory against the Mustangs. A balanced attack is needed because Memphis does not have the personnel on defense capable of slowing down SMU’s plethora of weapons.
Memphis will make things difficult for SMU initially, but they will not be able to keep with SMU’s ability to be productive on offense. The Tigers do not have the personnel needed that can make Sonny Dykes offense look one-dimensional.
SMU 49, Memphis 38
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