In what looks to be a victory lap for the home team, Memphis hosts the Connecticut Huskies Saturday. The home team hopes to win its first conference crown since before all of its players (and its head coach) were born.
Start Time: 4 P.M. ET
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis
Streaming: WatchESPN.com/WatchESPN App
Records: Memphis (8-3, 6-1 American Athletic) UConn (2-8, 1-5)
Live Stats: Why yes
Betting Line: Memphis -21, Over/Under of 44
Memphis Outlook: A glance at what Vegas put together for this contest tells you everything you need to know. They're giving up a full three touchdowns to lure folks to the Huskies, while the total is a low, low 44.
Both of those numbers are a testament to the Tigers' strong defense. Memphis ranks 30th nationally in total defense and 9th in scoring defense. The team has given up more than 20 points only three times, and two of those were to UCLA and Ole Miss. Memphis' defense has given up 40 in their last three games combined.
Coach Justin Fuente's offense is led by 6-foot-7 quarterback Paxton Lynch. The signal caller boasts 2,576 yards passing this season and 14 touchdowns against six interceptions, not to mention 10 rushing scores. Lynch has played a role in more than half of the Tigers' 42 touchdowns in 2014.
The leading rusher is Brandon Hayes. He's recorded 840 yards on the ground this year and still has an outside shot at breaking the 1,000-yard mark. No less than five receivers have caught at least 22 passes this season.
UConn Outlook: There's a reason they call UConn a basketball school. The Huskies are 2-8, a surprise win over UCF one of the season's only highlights. UConn finishes up their season next week against 0-10 SMU so should at least be able to close out the season with another victory. Bob Diaco gets a mulligan since this is his first year but things haven't gone well so far.
Making matters worse for the visitors, about 15 players have left the team since spring practice started. UConn fans are glad basketball is starting up. Memphis fans probably are too, but this year they've got some thing to brag about on the gridiron too.
Prediction: Memphis exorcises 43 years of demons this week, wins at least a share of the American Athletic Conference and solidifies a spot in a pretty sweet bowl this weekend. Oh yea, they cover the spread and cruise to a low-scoring victory too. Who you callin' a basketball school!?