In the ever-evolving landscape of college football, bowl projections serve as intriguing snapshots of what the postseason may hold for different teams. As the Memphis Tigers navigate through the 2023 season, ESPN’s college football writers, Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura, have weighed in with their latest bowl projections (subscription required), offering Tiger fans a glimpse of potential matchups on the horizon.
Schlabach’s projection places Memphis in the spotlight of the Military Bowl, where they would face off against ACC representative Virginia Tech. On the other hand, Bonagura envisions the Tigers clashing with Georgia Tech in the Fenway Bowl. Both projections pit Memphis against ACC teams, setting the stage for intriguing showdowns against Power Five opponents.
The Tigers’ journey this season has been filled with ups and downs, and their current standing in the AAC race plays a pivotal role in these bowl speculations. As things stand, Memphis holds the fourth spot in the conference standings, boasting a 4-1 AAC record and a commendable 7-2 overall record. However, the path to a New Year’s Six (NY6) bowl game remains uncertain, with undefeated AAC powerhouses like Tulane, SMU, and UTSA standing ahead.
The defending AAC champion, Tulane Green Wave, currently sets the pace with a perfect 5-0 conference record and an impressive 8-1 overall standing. They are Bonagura’s pick as the Group of Five representative to compete in the prestigious Chick-fil-A Bowl, which carries the coveted NY6 designation. Tulane’s possible rematch with Ole Miss, following their sole loss of the season, adds intrigue to the bowl picture.
To earn the coveted NY6 bowl berth, Group of Five programs must meet specific qualifications, primarily being the highest-ranked conference champion in the G5 landscape. However, game performance against strong opponents also carries weight in the selection process. The trajectory of Air Force, previously considered the top G5 candidate, took a hit when they suffered their first loss to Army in Week 10. Interestingly, the first edition of the college football playoff rankings listed Tulane, not Air Force, as the highest-ranked Group of Five program, signaling a potential shift in the NY6 landscape.
While Memphis’s chances of a NY6 appearance may seem slim, there is still room for optimism. To bolster their resume, the Tigers must finish the season with impressive victories. The journey begins with a matchup against the 3-6 Charlotte 49ers, followed by a pivotal clash with SMU. A triumph over the Mustangs could propel Memphis back into contention for the AAC title game, potentially enhancing their appeal to the NY6 selection committee.
Despite losses, such as the narrow defeat to Missouri earlier in the season, the Tigers have demonstrated their ability to compete with Power Five programs. Memphis fans can find solace in the prospect of facing ACC opponents in bowl games, knowing that these matchups offer opportunities to make a statement on the national stage.
As the season unfolds, Memphis’s postseason fate remains uncertain, but the Tigers are determined to seize every opportunity to elevate their status and make a strong case for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. The journey continues, and Tiger fans can expect thrilling football action as the team vies for a memorable conclusion to the 2023 season.
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