FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,008) — Memphis,
Tennessee. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: UConn 2-4, Memphis 4-1. Away
Record: UConn 0-3, Memphis 4-2. Neutral Record: UConn 0-1, Memphis 0-0.
Conference Record: UConn 1-5, Memphis 6-1. Series Record: Connecticut leads,
GAME NOTES: With a chance to secure the American Athletic Conference
championship, the Memphis Tigers will close out the regular season with a test
against the Connecticut Huskies at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Although there are still some things to work out, should Memphis win this
weekend it would finish the regular season with a 7-1 mark in league play. The
Tigers are currently a half game ahead of Cincinnati and UCF in the league
standings, but each of those teams has two games to play. They padded their
resume’ last weekend with a 31-20 triumph over South Florida, their fifth
UConn has very little to play for aside from pride at this point. The Huskies
have lost back-to-back contests following a 41-0 drubbing from Cincinnati last
weekend. They are now just 2-8 overall and 1-5 in conference play with two
games left to go. They will wrap up the campaign next weekend against SMU.
These teams finished off their respective campaigns against one another last
season. UConn dominated the proceedings in a 45-10 final, which was also the
first-ever meeting between them.
The lack of potency on offense for the Huskies is the main culprit for their
woes this season. They are ranked 10th in the AAC in total yards (273 ypg),
ahead of only winless SMU. Also, they are only better than the Mustangs among
league teams in terms of scoring (15.6 ppg). They couldn’t even meet those
paltry numbers against Cincinnati, finishing with only 129 yards in the
Tim Boyle started against the Bearcats, replacing Chandler Whitmer, who still
got in to throw five passes, although he completed only two of those and one
was to a UC defender. Boyle didn’t do all that much better, completing just
13-of-21 pass attempts for 70 yards. Boyle has thrown a total of 47 passes
this season, recording only 146 yards on 27 completions. Whitmer has thrown
for 1,482 yards and 11 touchdowns, compared to only seven interceptions, on
55.5 percent passing as the primary starter.
The largely punchless passing attack has come despite the efforts of Geremy
Davis (36 receptions, 437 yards, three TDs) and Deshon Foxx (29 receptions,
382 yards, TD), who have not put up prodigious numbers, but are still solid
receivers when they do get the ball. Noel Thomas (22 receptions, 264 yards,
four TDs) leads the team in touchdown receptions.
Ron Johnson only rushed for 33 yards, but that was the most on the team for
UConn against Cincinnati. Johnson is the leading rusher on the roster as well,
but he has a mere 261 yards and two touchdowns on 69 carries. Max DeLorenzo
(240 yards), Arkeel Newsome (186 yards) and even Foxx (135 yards, TD) have
lent their support in running the ball.
UConn has remained competitive on defense at the very least. The Huskies rank
sixth in the AAC in yards allowed (374.9 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense
The Tigers have clearly been a surprise in the standings, but they also have
raised some eyebrows on offense. They rank third in the AAC in total offense
(427.3 ypg), while scoring a respectable 34.1 points per game.
Paxton Lynch leads the way for the squad from under center. He has completed
65.3 percent of his pass attempts this season, yielding 2,531 yards and 14
touchdown passes in the process. He has kept the mistakes down as well, with
only six interceptions. On top of his passing production, Lynch has a team-
high 10 rushing touchdowns and 243 yards. He finished with 232 yards and two
touchdowns on 18-of-23 passing in the win over USF.
Brandon Hayes gives the Tigers a fine option in the running game, as he has
tallied 842 yards and five touchdowns on 156 attempts this season, averaging
just under 85 yards per game. Hayes was on his game against South Florida,
powering his way to 189 yards on 21 carries.
Mose Frazier (38 receptions, 459 yards, three TDs) is Lynch’s favorite target,
leading the team in receptions, yards and touchdown catches. Tevin Jones (32
receptions, 430 yards, two TDs) and Keiwone Malone (32 receptions, 410 yards)
are solid secondary options, while tight end Alan Cross (24 receptions, 298
yards, three TDs) is tied with Frazier for the most touchdown receptions.
Memphis isn’t just among the AAC’s best on offense, it also is one of the top
defensive squads in the conference. The Tigers are allowing just 427.3 yards
per game, while leading the league in points allowed (17.7 ppg). Tank Jakes
(76 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks) is the best playmaker on the unit.
It has been quite the season for Memphis, which has done enough on offense and
plenty on defense to keep racking up the wins. The Tigers aren’t likely to
fall short of their goals this weekend as the Huskies are nowhere near
productive enough to handle winning on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 35, Connecticut 14