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Memphis Tigers One Win From AAC Crown After Beating USF 31-20

Memphis remains in control of its destiny in the American Athletic Conference thanks to a 31-20 win over South Florida Saturday afternoon. The Tigers jumped to an early lead with two first quarter touchdowns and never looked back.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The game went according to script in the Liberty Bowl as the Memphis Tigers upended the South Florida Bulls 31-20. With the win, Memphis guarantees at least a share of the AAC title if it beats UConn next weekend. The USF loss guarantees the team will not go to a bowl game.

Quarterback Paxton Lynch led the way for the Tigers (8-3, 6-1 AAC), completing 18 of 23 pass attempts for 232 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Playing ballhog, Lynch also scored both of Memphis' rushing touchdowns, including one for 24 yards.

Not to be outdone, running back Brandon Hayes ran for 189 yards on 21 carries. On the whole, Memphis outgained USF 470 to 396. The Tiger offense was the picture of balance during the game in passing for 232 yards and running for 238. The Bulls did dominate time of possession in spending almost 37 minutes on offense, which I guess means that stat is overrated.

USF only picked up 95 yards on the ground and was thus forced to go to the air. A quarterback combination of Mike White and Steven Bench went 27-of-46 for 301 yards and one score. The Bulls also lost a fumble in the game's only turnover.

Bulls running back Marlon Mack ran for 102 yards and a touchdown, which begs the question how the team could rush for less than 100 if one player did it by himself. The answer is three players gaining negative yards, including White, who "rushed" for negative 12 yards AKA got sacked a bunch of times.

The contest wasn't really as close as the 31-20 score made it look. South Florida added a garbage time touchdown on its last possession. Memphis also suffered from two missed field goals, but the only folks upset with that were indulging in the devil's path to poverty (Memphis was an 18.5-point favorite).

Next up for Memphis is the home and regular season finale next Saturday against UConn, who is 2-7 and will probably be 2-8 by then.

USF ends its season with a rivalry game against Central Florida on Friday.