After a career night in a Conference USA victory over UTEP in Memphis this past Saturday, senior Tiger running back Curtis Steele has earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the league.
Steele rushed for the second highest total in the nation this season with a career-high 240 yards on 39 carries in a 35-20 victory over the Miners. The 240 rushing yards ranks fourth all-time in Memphis history and his 39 carries ranks in a tie for second with DeAngelo Williams (2001-04). Steele averaged 6.2 yards per carry in the game and scored a career-best three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 receiving). The three TDs ties him for fifth all-time in school history. The Doak Walker Award candidate's 240-yard rushing effort is the seventh 100-yard performance of his career, which ties him for third in Memphis history. He has now eclipsed the 200-yard mark twice in his career, marking only the second time a Tiger player has had two or more 200 yard rushing games in their career.
Steele caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Will Hudgens with 2:31 remaining in the second quarter for his first career touchdown reception. He later rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard run and added a second rushing touchdown later in the quarter on a nine-yard rush. It is his third career multiple rushing touchdown game and second of the season after also scoring two against Ole Miss.
The Franklin, Tenn., native has scored rushing touchdowns in eight of his last 10 games played and totals 11 TDs on the ground during the stretch. Steele ranks seventh nationally among active career leaders in rushing attempts per game (17.0) and fourth in rushing yards per game (94.4). His 250 all-purpose yards (240 rush, 10 receiving) against the Miners ranks 10th in school history. Steele converted five of the Tigers' 10 third down conversions and 13 of his runs resulted in a first down or a touchdown. The game marked his first start since suffering a deep bone bruise against Middle Tennessee that knocked him out of the lineup for two games.
This is the second Player of the Week honor for Steele, as he was also selected last season on October 27, after rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries against Southern Miss.
Joining Steele in honors this week were Houston senior CB Brandon Brinkley, whose two interceptions keyed the Cougars win at Mississippi State, and SMU freshman Margus Hunt, who thwarted two ECU scoring drives with a pair of blocked field goal attempts.