Mike Norvell

Mike Norvell applauds his defense after a third down stop. The Memphis Tigers play the Cincinnati Bearcats Friday at the Liberty Bowl to end their regular season slate. 

Memphis Tigers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Preview

The No. 17 Memphis Tigers (10-1, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) will be returning to the Liberty Bowl on Black Friday to close out their regular season against the No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats (10-1, 7-0 AAC). This is the second time that the Tigers will be taking on a team that is also ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 25 College Football Rankings.

The Tigers are currently on a three-game winning streak against the Bearcats with their most recent win coming in Cincinnati back in 2016 where the Tigers won the game 34-7.

These two teams are both leading in their respective AAC divisions and this game could easily be played in next Saturday Dec. 7 for the AAC Championship.

Memphis Tigers

The Tigers dominance continued with them to Tampa when they defeated the South Florida Bulls on the road, 49-10.

The Tigers offense was clicking on all cylinders, especially in their run game. They ran the ball 58 times, and it culminated with them earning 325 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.

Kenneth Gainwell led the way in terms of yards with 128 on just 14 carries, which was good for an average of 9.1 yards per carry.

Patrick Taylor Jr. had a bounce back game and looked to be at full health after toting the ball 17 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns. This was his second game coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for eight weeks.

Brady White was a nice compliment, throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns but also two interceptions.

Defensively, the Tigers secondary stepped up and held the Bulls to just 44 passing yards. Bulls’ quarterback, Jordan McCloud, completed just five of his 14 pass attempts.

The group also had four sacks and seven tackles for loss, led by Joseph Dorceus who had two tackles for loss.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati’s last game was a nail-bitter against Temple that was a defensive battle that the Bearcats won 15-13.

The Bearcats offense had its fair share of struggles, especially in the passing game.

Bearcats’ quarterback, Desmond Riddler, had a rough game, completing nine of his 25 pass attempts for 62 yards and an interception.

Cincinnati’s offense was kept alive by their running game and were led by running back, Michael Warrenn II who had 106 rushing yards and a touchdown. This was his second straight 100-yard rushing game of the season.

He leads the team with 939 rushing yards.

Defensively, safety, Darrick Forrest had a strong day against the Owls and led his team with eight tackles and also had an interception. Linebacker, Michael Pitts, had the team’s only sack of the contest.

Game Prediction

This game will possibly be the most defensively charged game of the season.

Cincinnati currently have a defense in the top-30 in terms of rushing yards allowed per game, which matches up well with Memphis’ 31st ranked rushing attack in the nation.

For the Tigers’ to get past Cincinnati, they have to get their run game to go past the Bearcats' stout rushing defense. That or Brady White's aerial attack is going to have to exploit their 69th ranked passing defense.

In the end, I see the Tigers being able to pull out the victory because they can do something that the Bearcats’ cannot do, score.

Score Prediction: Memphis 30-18 Cincinnati 

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