The University of Memphis football team’s road game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Friday may well be a “trap game.”
Memphis, which is ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll, is coming off arguably the biggest win in team history after defeating then No. 13 Ole Miss 37-24 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium last Saturday. The Tigers (6-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) are now 6-0 for the first time since 1961 and are ranked in both polls for the first time in team history. Memphis has also won 13 consecutive games dating back to last season; only TCU and Ohio State have longer winning streaks nationally.
Tulsa (3-3, 0-2 AAC) has already won more games this season (3) than they did in 2014 (2). Like the Tigers, the Golden Hurricane have one of the most potent offenses in college football. Tulsa’s offense, which is led by quarterback Dane Evans, averages the sixth most yards per game in the FBS.
“As I told you guys last week, win or lose, we got to be able to turn the page after Ole Miss to prepare for Tulsa in this short week,” Memphis coach Justin Fuente said. “Tulsa is a very explosive team. They are in the top 2 or 3 in the country in yards and points offensively. They play in a similar fashion to Bowling Green. We have a great challenge on both sides of the football. It's important to have our kids ready for this week. We need great leadership from coaches and players to set the tone and how we go about our work. We have to put the past behind us and move forward to try to win at Tulsa."
The Tiger defense is coming off arguably its best performance of the season, one that saw them hold Ole Miss, led by junior quarterback Chad Kelly and star receiver Laquon Treadwell, to 14 points in the final 55 minutes of Saturday’s game. Apart from Missouri State and South Florida, the Memphis defense has faced a high-potent offense each week and has limited each opponent enough to help persevere the Tigers’ undefeated record.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Christian Johnson, who had four tackles, 2.5 being tackles for loss, in the victory against the Rebels, said the defense has gotten better across the board since the beginning of the season.
“We’ve came a long way from week one to now,” Johnson said. “All across the board from the defensive line, we’re getting a lot more penetration. We’re playing a lot more physical. We’re starting to play a lot more gap-sound defense. On the backside, we have a lot of young people on the backside who were playing behind Bobby (McCain) and Fritz (Etienne). They are really just getting their shot to play; they’re coming together as well. If we keep progressing we’ll be great.”
The Memphis offense, which is led by redshirt junior quarterback Paxton Lynch, will be expected to have few problems against the Tulsa defense. The Golden Hurricane rank 106th in points allowed as they give up more than 34 points per game.
Regardless, redshirt senior tight end Alan Cross said the Tiger offense will have to be ready for the amount of blitzes from Tulsa.
“They like to do a lot of different blitzes and things like that,” said Cross, who has two touchdown receptions this season. “We’re going to have to pick them up and give Paxton (Lynch) some time (in the pocket). We have to be able to run the ball inside and outside. We’re just going to have to out-execute them.”
Memphis will face Tulsa 7 p.m. Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The No. 18 ranked Memphis Tigers will hope to win its 14th consecutive game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Friday