The No. 18 Memphis Tigers (9-1) will be returning from their bye week to make their way to Texas to face the Houston Cougars (3-6). The Tigers have beaten them in three straight seasons, with their latest victory being in Memphis, 52-31.
The game was the regular-season finale and was meant to determine who would win the AAC West and face The University of Central Florida in the AAC Championship.
Mike Norvell told the media that he does not plan on counting out Houston despite their sub .500 record.
“Houston is a very talented football team with a lot of explosive players,” Norvell said. “It’s a very challenging place to play. Our guys are excited about the opportunity.”
The last game the Tigers played was in an ESPN primetime game when they took on the SMU Mustangs.
The Top 25 match up inspired ESPN’s College GameDay to come to Memphis for the first time to see which AAC team would prevail.
To the city of Memphis’ pleasure, they won the game 54-48, led by their explosive offensive attack and talented run defense.
Brady White threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, with wide receivers, Damonte Coxie and Antonio Gibson both having at least 130 receiving yards and a touchdown.
However, Antonio Gibson was the talk of the game and had 386 yards from scrimmage, a Memphis record. In addition to those yards, he also had three touchdowns; one receiving, rushing and returning a kickoff return.
About this stellar game, Norvell talked about Gibson and said he admires how much progress he has made over the last year.
“Antonio has really come on throughout the season,” Norvell said. “Last year, he did great things for us on special teams but wasn’t really in the spotlight. We always tell players, ‘You have to put yourself in a position to force me to make sure that you’re getting showcased.’ He’s done a wonderful job of that.’”
Defensively, they allowed a season-high 456 yards as big plays downfield were the story of the game. Five SMU pass catchers had receptions of at least 30 yards, and it played a big role in SMU’s 27 first downs.
On a positive note, SMU’s star running back, Xavier Jones, was held to a season-low 22 yards on 11 carries.
Houston also had a bye last week, but their last opponent was the UCF Knights, a game that they lost 44-29. This was their second straight loss.
Offensively, they were led by running back Mulbah Car, who rushed for 132 yards and two rushing touchdowns. His performance further established Houston as one of the top 25 rushing offenses in the nation.
However, even though their running game was strong, their passing game was less inspiring.
Quarterback, Clayton Tune threw for just 179 yards, a touchdown, an interception. It also did not help that he was sacked five times.
Defensively, they could not stop UCF from scoring, as they scored each quarter and allowed 468 yards.
These struggles are not anything new for the Cougars since they are currently the nation’s 105th defense in the league in terms of points allowed per game with 34.5.
The Tigers have momentum on their side after defeating SMU just two weekends ago, and I do not see any way that Houston will be able to slow them down.
Because of their struggles stopping opposing offenses from scoring, it is hard to see that changing against Memphis’ 10th ranked scoring offense.
The Tigers have averaged 39.4 points per game, but in the last three games have scored at least 40 points, with Houston’s bad defense, I do not see that changing.
Score Prediction: Memphis 52-28 Houston