The game was closer than the 35-17 score indicated. Memphis was 2 bad plays away from having a halftime lead and battled until the very end.
If you had told me before the game that Memphis would outgain Central Florida in total yards I would have thought you were crazy. If you had told me Memphis was 3 bad plays from pulling off the upset I would have said you're nuts.
But that's what happened. Memphis, on homecoming and hosting a bunch of commits and recruits, were really 3 bad plays from winning the game. Really?
PLAY #1- If [db]Alan Cross[/db] didn't fumble and actually scored from the 1-yard line then the score would have been 7-7. Instead, 4 plays later, UCF scored making it 14-0.
Memphis then scored 10 points in the 2nd qtr and shut out UCF. So instead of a 17-7 halftime lead Memphis was down 14-10.
PLAY #2- In the 3rd quarter Jacob Karam threw an interception and 6 plays later UCF had a 21-10 lead. (Which could have been 17-14 if Cross hadn't fumbled in the 1st).
PLAY #3- The start of the 4th quarter Karam completed a pass to Malone who fumbled and UCF ran it back for a 79 yd TD. Take that play away and the score is still 17-14 (Assuming the other bad plays had gone differently).
UCF marched down the field on a 13-play 73 yd drive for a score taking a 35-10 lead. (Could have been a 21-17 lead)
Memphis responded with a 12 play 57 yd drive of their own and made it 35-17 to finish the game. (Or assuming the other bad plays had gone differently, Memphis would have taken a 24-21 lead with :39 to go in the game).
The first half was a great half for the offense. They moved the ball well and the offensive line played their best game of the season. 1st half grade would be an A. Then the 2nd half happened. The Tigers became predictable doing the same plays as if UCF would make any adjustments and allow them to run at will. 2nd half grade would be a C so that makes the overall grade a B. The offense turned the ball over 3 times that turned into 21 UCF points. Still, the Tigers were 3 plays away from a statement win.
The defense is really starting to come together. They played with fire and passion that lasted the entire game. The weakness was supposed to be the secondary. UCF managed just 122 passing yards (They average 249 on the year). The Memphis offense had four 3 and outs which is down from previous games and the Tiger defense seemed ready for that challenge on short notice. There were a few blown coverage's in the game but that's an improvement from the start of the season. You can tell the defense is starting to get it.
The coaching staff had Memphis ready to play and had a great game plan in the first half. Once again in the second half the offense began to be too predictable. To their credit they made some adjustments and began to move the ball again. Even though the team lost, this was their best coaching effort of the season. As we pointed out before, 3 plays were the difference from their 6th loss to a major upset.