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Opinion: Memphis football close to attaining best season ever

<p>The student sections holds up signs during the game against UCLA. Memphis won the game 48-45.&nbsp;</p>
The student sections holds up signs during the game against UCLA. Memphis won the game 48-45. 

The University of Memphis football team is close to accomplishing something unprecedented – the team is closing in on their best season to date and have a chance to accomplish something great.

Memphis is 8-1 with two regular season games remaining and should be favored in both games. This could be the first time the Tigers reach 10 wins in the regular season, and they could also reach their highest AP ranking.

The Tigers jumped into the AP Top 25 for the first time in two years after their win in October over No. 25 Navy and have not looked back since.

The Tigers will clinch a spot in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game with a win against Southern Methodist this Saturday. If they beat East Carolina the following week and win the AAC Championship against UCF or USF, then they will be have a chance to make a New Year’s Day Bowl.

Memphis fans have never seen these goals as attainable before. Tiger fans have spent years watching their team struggle to made bowl games, but now they have a chance to reach new heights.  

Fans who have stuck with the team through the down years are now being rewarded. In the past four years, they have seen some of the best players in the school’s history as well as four straight bowl games.

Three people — Mike Norvell, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller – have led this year’s success. Norvell is currently 16-6 in two seasons as the Tiger’s Head coach and has led Memphis to victory against three AP top-25 opponents.

In less than two full seasons, Ferguson set Memphis’s single season touchdown record (32) in 2016 and is third on the Tiger’s all time in passing yards. He tied the programs single-game record with seven passing touchdowns and single game passing yards record in with 471 yards. He still could have as many as four games left to chase more records.

He is ranked 14th in nation in passing yards (2,881) this season to go along with 27 passing touchdowns. Due to his outstanding play, Ferguson was named as a semifinalist for the 2017 Davey O’Brien award and a finalist for the 2017 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award. 

A homegrown product, Miller has made some of the biggest plays in the Tiger’s history. The Christian Brothers High School graduate totaled 19 receptions for 275 yards and four touchdowns this year against top 25 opponents, UCLA and Navy. He is second in the nation in receiving with 11 receiving scores and 14th in receiving yards (905). Miller was selected as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the NCAA’s most outstanding receiver.

Norvell will rely on his two offensive weapons to finish out the final two games of the regular season. Memphis takes on SMU (6-4) at home this Saturday with a chance to lock down the AAC western division for the first time in program history.

They finish the season at home against ECU (2-8), who has only won one conference game this season. Memphis will most likely play the winner of the UCF, USF game, and the team with the best AAC record will host the championship.

Memphis fans have only two more guaranteed chances to see their team play at home this season. These are likely the last shots for fans to see two Tigers greats, Miller and Ferguson, in person. This might also be the last opportunity to see the most successful Tiger football team of all time.

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