The Memphis Tigers had a bye week to prepare for their next home game against Central Florida. This comes after Memphis played an incredible game last week against Arkansas State, putting up 31 points in a dominating 31-7 triumph.
This is the same Red Wolves team that is known for putting points on the scoreboard. The Red Wolves scored 103 points in their 2 victories in 2013, and scored 464 points in 13 games in 2012. In their final 7 regular season games in 2012, Arkansas State scored 34, 36, 50, 37, 45, 41 and 45 points.
For Memphis to hold the Red Wolves to just 7 points and 255 total yards (181 passing and 74 on the ground) was nothing short of impressive.
This sets the stage for the Tigers' critical, first-ever American Athletic Conference football contest against the team which was Conference USA runner-up in 2012: Central Florida.
UCF (3-1) came up short last Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks of the SEC. They led all the way until the fourth quarter when the Gamecocks took control of the game. The Knight would end up losing the ball game, 28-25.
Memphis will face a Golden Knights team that averages 297.5 passing yards and 33.8 points a game. It is a challenge that will require the Tigers to be on their A-game to get another victory.
The home crowd will need to be there in full throat as the Tigers try to repeat last week's performance against the Red Wolves. Memphis is currently 1-2 and has a chance of improving to .500, but everyone on the field Saturday will have to put forth superior effort.
The running game will play a major factor in this game. Brandon Hayes and Marquis Warford both rushed over 100 yards and had one touchdown each last week. If Hayes and Warford have strong performances again and Paxton Lynch continues to make smart decisions with the football, Memphis will have a chance to pull out a W.
As Lynch gets more comfortable manning the controls of the offense, offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey needs to open up the offense, forsaking some of the short passing game and going for the periodic long ball.
The Tigers have a perfect candidate for a vertical game: redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tevin Jones, who has eight receptions for 107 yards but no touchdowns. Jones, at 6-2 and 215 pounds, is capable of dominating against man-to-man coverage scheme. Look for Jones to get more chances to catch the football and make big plays out in space.
This game will come down to which team makes smarter decisions with the football. Losing the turnover battle could lose the ball game. If Lynch continues to play dink-and-dunk with short passes, it could cause added stress on the running game. But executing on big possessions-especially converting third downs-will win games.
Taking their first-ever AAC tilt at home could be the impetus the Tigers need to have a possible bowl game at season's end.