After losing their potentially undefeated season in controversial fashion last week at Temple, the Tigers return home this Saturday to take on Tulane, who currently sits at first in the west division at 5-1. While emotions are still surely running high coming off such a tough defeat, a quality opponent like the Green Wave coming to town means there is no time for Mike Norvell’s team to feel sorry for themselves.
A season ago, the Green Wave gashed the Tigers defense for 318 rushing yards in a 40-24 throttling on a rainy night in New Orleans. However, with both teams entering this game 5-1, the stakes are a bit higher this time around.
For Memphis, the formula for success seems clear: Get the ball to Kenneth Gainwell. Despite the loss a week ago, the redshirt freshman shined once again and flashed a pass-catching ability that only makes him more dangerous.
Green Wave quarterback Justin McMillan is dynamic as both a runner and a passer and their offense have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard when need be, including a thrilling 38-31 victory over Houston on national television. Their only loss this year came on the road at Auburn in a 24-6 game that was much closer than the score truly indicated.
For Memphis, this will be as tough a game as they have played all year. If Brady White and the rest of the offense can avoid the costly mistakes, I believe the home crowd will play enough of a role to will the Tigers to a hard-fought, much-needed win.
Score prediction: Memphis 41-38 Tulane
The Memphis Tigers once again have another tall task ahead of them. Tulane comes to town looking to beat the Tigers like they did last year.
Brady White was very inconsistent last week, so he has to get rid of the turnovers if they want to get back to winning.
Memphis’ defense also has to improve from last week as they gave up the most total yards (456) to an opponent all season against Temple. Tulane is coming in on a four-game winning streak, and they will look to upset Memphis at home with dual-threat QB Justin McMillan at the helm who has 14 touchdowns collectively on the year.
But the Tigers are great at the Liberty Bowl, undefeated so far this season. The defense will shut down McMillian, and Kenneth Gainwell will continue to dominate even if Patrick Taylor Jr. returns.
Score Prediction: Memphis 38-28 Tulane
This game did not have as much hype if you go back to before the season started. The Green Wave has a surprising 5-1 record, and their only loss was against SEC-foe Auburn earlier this year. This team was picked third to win the west division, and if they upset Memphis at the Liberty Bowl, do not be surprised to see them in the AAC Championship game.
Memphis has emphasized the “Memphis versus Everybody” slogan for this week’s game after the controversy in the Temple contest so that that fan involvement will be important to this team. The consensus is that if Brady White limits turnovers and controls the offense, and if Gainwell can make his touches count, despite a possible return of Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis should be able to stifle a hot Green Wave team.
Score Prediction: Memphis 28-25 Tulane
Memphis returns to football after a difficult loss from Temple that greatly caps the possibility for the realistic hopes of the season. Nothing is out of the picture yet, but the Tigers are on high alert for the remainder of the season.
The Memphis football team will probably have more reasons to find motivation for this game than any other for the rest of the season. Coming off their first loss to Temple, the Tigers get to play another possibly ranked team. Last year, Memphis received a very humbling loss in New Orleans by an underestimated Green Wave squad, the Tigers biggest thought was how they did not run the ball at all.
Tulane may have the best pass rush in the AAC, and the Tigers may have one of the best rush offenses in the American. A mismatch could be in the making if the Tigers balance their offense with Kenneth Gainwell.
Justin McMillan is a very effective dual-threat quarterback, and the Memphis defense will have to adjust.
I think the home-field advantage will determine the outcome of this game greatly. If the city of Memphis shows up, the Tigers may establish a rhythm much sooner and may build a gradual lead. Tulane is another serious competitor in this conference. I believe the focus is now elevated for every member of the team, and I think this game will be a statement.
Score Prediction: Memphis 45-28 Tulane