By Jacob Rice
The Memphis Tigers (7-3, 5-3) did just enough to win and contain Houston's late-game heroics.
The Tigers won their season-finale by beating the Cougars 30-27 with a walk-off field goal. Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said he knew it would take all three phases of the game to win and it did.
"So proud of the effort of these guys," Silverfield said. "I think our guys just believe in each other."
Memphis slowly built up a 27-6 lead and held back the Cougars (3-4. 3-3) for most of the game. The Tigers found ways to have explosive plays and big moments on offense and defense.
The Cougars decided not to give up and kept fighting. Houston slowly erased the 21-point deficit and tied it with 28 seconds left in the game.
Tied at 27 each, Memphis drove down the field and set Riley Patterson up with a 47-yard field goal attempt. Patterson sent it down the middle, no time was left on the clock and the Tigers won.
Patterson said he was thankful for the opportunity to be in the situation.
"It's just awesome," Patterson said. "This is a pretty cool thing for me, I get to hit a game-winner."
When the kick went through, Patterson stormed the field and the entire team chased him. Patterson kicked his first game-winning, walk-off field goal in his career.
"I have envisioned a game-winning field goal since I was in high school," Patterson said. "I've envisioned it probably 45 thousand times."
Beating the Cougars wasn't the only good thing that happened for the Tigers. Brady White broke Danny Wimprine's career passing yards record. White took the record during the second quarter and is now the all-time passing leader at the University of Memphis.
"I know who I am and I know who God created me to be, I am a winner," White said. "It's facts now, it's not speculation, not opinions.
White set the new record with 10,406 yards. White said he was very content with how he performed during his time at Memphis.
Calvin Austin III also earned an achievement by having over one-thousand receiving yards this season. He has officially racked up 1,025 receiving yards. Austin has joined Isaac Bruce, Anthony Miller and Damonte Coxie as the fourth Tiger to have a one-thousand receiving yard season.
Quindell Johnson has also emerged as a big game-changer on defense. The safety caught his third interception of the season. Johnson has managed to get an interception in each of the last three Memphis games.
For the first time in school history, the Tigers finished two consecutive, regular seasons undefeated in the confines of the Liberty Bowl. The last time Memphis lost in the Liberty Bowl was 2018 against UCF.
Since then, Memphis has won 15 straight home games. Since Brady White has arrived at the University of Memphis, the Tigers have won 19 of 20 home football games.
"I think that is awesome to be 19 and 1 on your home field," White said. I'm so dang proud of myself and of this whole team. I am pretty content with the way I am walking out of here."
White is one of many seniors who played their final game at the Liberty Bowl.
Memphis has extended the win streak against the Cougars to five straight wins. Overall, the Cougars still hold a lead in the all-time series, 14-15.