The Tigers football team finish a comfortable bye week after beating SMU in a huge American Athletic Conference West Division match-up.

Following the lengthy break, Memphis is set for their next test in Houston against the AAC West fifth-place Cougars. The University of Houston has not quite lived up to the early expectations and will have to play well in TDECU Stadium if they want to ruin the hopes and dreams of a resilient Memphis team.

Memphis has not lost a football game to a team from Texas during the Mike Norvell era. Norvell has been triumphant in all seven games in Texas or against teams from Texas.

The last time Memphis lost to a team from Texas was in 2015 against the Houston Cougars when Jake Elliott missed a game-winning field goal. The Tigers left Houston with a 35-34 loss before Norvell arrived.

Memphis beat SMU four times and Houston three times while Norvell has led the University of Memphis football program.

Memphis was not the only coaching position Norvell held in his time. Five universities have utilized Norvell’s talent, and throughout his time, teams have finished 181-61 (as of Nov. 13, 2019). When Norvell was hired with those five universities, teams went 21-9 in games against Texas teams.

Norvell began his career as a graduate assistant with his alma mater at the University of Central Arkansas. The Bears finished 8-3 and 2-0 against Texas teams, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin.

Norvell was hired by the University of Tulsa and worked as a wide receiver coach and did various coaching tasks for four seasons. The Golden Hurricane achieved a 36-17 record during their time with Norvell. Tulsa was 12-6 in four seasons against the Texas teams.

In 2011, the Pittsburgh Panthers hired Norvell as a co-offensive coordinator and a wide receiver coach. The only matchup with a Texas university was the BBVA Compass Bowl game against SMU. However, Norvell declared he accepted a new job somewhere much warmer in the winter before that bowl game loss.

Norvell started the 2012 season with the Arizona State Sun Devils after spending one season in Pennsylvania. Norvell was the offensive coordinator for ASU, and the Sun Devils went 32-17 in the four seasons he was there. There were only two games against Texas teams, and the Sun Devils went 0-2 in four years. Texas Tech and Texas A&M beat the Sun Devils.

Norvell was then offered the Memphis head coach position in 2016 and has been perfect in games with Texas opponents now in his fourth season.

The five universities Norvell has coached with holds a 6-3 record against SMU, 5-3 with Houston, 2-2 with UTEP, 4-0 with Rice, 1-0 with North Texas, 0-1 with Texas A&M, 0-1 with Texas Tech, 2-0 with Sam Houston and 1-0 

with Stephen F. Austin.

The Texas FBS schools that have not encountered Norvell are Baylor, TCU, Texas, UTSA and Texas State. Norvell has gone 18-7 against Group of Five teams, 0-2 with Power Five and 2-0 against FCS. Overall, Norvell established a 21-9 record against Texas teams throughout his time coaching.

While Norvell has been on the staff of five different universities, three of the universities performed well enough to compete in their respective conference championship games.

Tulsa appeared in two C-USA championship games, Memphis in two American championship games, and Arizona State in one PAC-12 Championship game. All five of those games were losses for the team Norvell represented. UCF beat Tulsa both times, the Knights beat Memphis both times, and Stanford beat ASU.

There is a likely chance that Memphis appears in the American Conference Championship game again. However, if they win that game, they could advance to the New Years Six Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. It could be another opportunity for Norvell to impress with his current undefeated Texas streak.

If things do not go perfectly for the remainder of the season, Memphis will still land a bowl game. One of the bowl games being the Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Other bowl games with an American team bid include the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl, the Birmingham Bowl, the AutoNation Cure Bowl, the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl and the Military Bowl. These games are in Florida, Alabama, Maryland, and Hawai’i. However, almost any bowl game is possible.

Norvell has achieved a meek bowl record throughout his coaching career, finishing 5-6. Tulsa achieved three bowl games with Norvell’s time and won all three. Arizona State achieved a bowl game each year Norvell was present and won two of them.

Memphis earned three bowl bids during Norvell’s time as head coach and has lost all three. The last time Memphis won a bowl game was the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl. Memphis has lost every bowl game since that victory over BYU.

There is only one more guaranteed Texas opponent for the Tigers. It involves a trip to Houston to face off against the University of Houston Cougars this Saturday. If another game needs to be won, then Memphis needs to continue the mindset of going 1-0.

No team in the American Athletic Conference has lost to more ranked opponents than Houston (0-4). The Cougars sunk to a 3-6 record and are at risk of losing their third consecutive game. Bowl eligibility is going to be pulled from the hopes and dreams of the Houston faithful if they lose to a stellar Memphis team.

Memphis earned full control of any possibilities if they win out, and it will have to start with beating this hopeful Houston team. The last time Memphis had to travel to Houston, Norvell found his team trailing 17-0 at halftime. A surge of points from Memphis playmakers and exceptional play-calling had the Tigers outscore the Cougars 42-21 in the second half. Houston would suffer a 42-38 loss and have not beaten Memphis at TDECU Stadium since 2015.

Last year,   the Tigers stormed away from Houston in a high-scoring AAC West title game. The Cougars failed to score in the fourth quarter and could not compete and lost once again to a Norvell team.

This is another opponent that could pack plenty of fight, and Memphis needs to prepare for a tough game. 

The Tulsa game was close enough, and I am sure luck runs out eventually.

Norvell has dominated the state of Texas, and there is no reason why he could not improve to 8-0 after a good win.

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