The Memphis Tigers needed to take care of business against a hapless 2-9 Connecticut Huskies team, and they did just that as they started slow but finished strong with a 28 point second half to prevail 41-10.
Memphis drew first blood as kicker Jake Elliott hit a couple of chip shot field goals from 21 and 22 yards out to put the Tigers up 6-0 at the end of the first. Both defenses ground away the second quarter until Memphis QB Paxton Lynch connected with Keiwone Malone for the first of his four touchdown passes with just under 2 minutes in the 2nd. UCONN responded by driving 51 yards to set up a Bobby Puyol 45 yard field goal and a 13-3 halftime deficit.
After what was likely a focused halftime speech by Justin Fuente, Memphis came out of the tunnel and rampaged through the third quarter. Lynch drove his team down the field on drives of 39, 65, and 40 yards to connect with Malone, Tevin Jones, and Phil Mayhue in the end zone, respectively.
UCONN would eventually see Tim Boyle connect on a 39 yard touchdown bomb with Arkeel Newsome in the 4th quarter, but by then the damage was done. Jarvis Cooper would plunge the ball in from the 1 with 5:09 left to put an exclamation point on the game for Memphis. Tank Jakes led a swarming Memphis defense with 9 tackles, and Fritz Etienne notched an interception for the Tigers.
By virtue of their victory, Memphis (9-3, 7-1 AAC) now waits atop of the American Athletic Conference standings for 6-1 UCF and Cincinnati, setting up a photo finish for the end of the season. UCF faces a road test at ECU and Cincinnati still has to face (likely) bowl-bound Houston at home, so it's certainly possible for the Tigers to win the title outright. Regardless of next week's outcomes, their first conference title since 1971 gives Memphis much to celebrate.