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Big test for Memphis with Cincinnati football matchup

The next matchup for the Memphis Tigers (3-1) is a trip to Cincinnati to face the No. 7 Bearcats (4-0) in Nippert Stadium. 

Both the Tigers and the Bearcats need a win to build their resume for postseason hopes. Cincy enters the game seemingly untouched and Memphis Coach Ryan Silverfield said there is a reason Cincinnati is ranked.

"We are excited," Silverfield said. "We know that we have had the fortune of beating them in the past. Obviously they were a different team and we are a different team and we know the challenges."

Memphis has the obstacle of competing against what looks like the best team in the conference. Cincinnati has not lost a home game since Nov. 10, 2017. An obvious eye-catcher is the fact that the Bearcats have reached seventh in the top 25 polls. Silverfield said no one is underestimating what the team' next opponent is capable of. 

"They are a top-ten team for a reason," Silverfield said. "We shouldn't prepare any different than we do any other week."

Cincinnati returns many key offensive players such as a dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder. The bigger challenge for Memphis is overcoming a well-rounded, stout Cincinnati defense.

Not a single team has scored more than 20 points on Cincinnati's defense through four games. On average, the team has only allowed 12.5 points after four games. The Bearcats have already beaten two top-25 teams this season, SMU and Army West Point. 

The Bearcats are the highest ranked American Athletic Conference team since UCF in late 2018. A win for Cincinnati almost guarantees a chance to move up in the rankings. Memphis may be blessed with a return to the top-25 rankings if they can pull off an upset. 

What happened last time against Cincy?

The last time these two teams played was in back-to-back weeks in 2019. First, the Tigers beat Cincinnati 34-24 to secure home-field advantage for a spot in the AAC Championship game. The following week, Memphis beat the Bearcats again by a margin of 29-24. The Tigers, of course, won the AAC title and earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl. 

Memphis has won the last five meetings against Cincy, dating back to 2014. However, that streak will be tested when the Tigers face one of the strongest Cincinnati teams they have ever faced. 

The Tigers' history against a top-ten ranked opponents

This weekend’s game marks Memphis’ highest-ranked regular-season opponent since the Tigers played No. 6 ranked Tennessee on Nov. 10, 2001. The last time Memphis played a Top 10 opponent was at No. 7 UCF on Dec. 1, 2018 during a postseason AAC Championship game.

Overall, the Tigers are an abysmal 3-30-2 all-time against Top 10 opponents. The last time Memphis defeated a Top 10 team was when they won 21-17 against No. 6 Tennessee in 1996 in Memphis .

Memphis’ last ranked road win was at No. 23 Mississippi State on Sept. 4, 1993. The Tigers upset the Bulldogs 45-35. Memphis also won on the road at No. 7 Auburn on Sept. 13, 1975 by a margin of 31-20. Memphis has lost 16 straight road games against Top 25 teams, with six of those 16 ranked in the Top 10.

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