After a program-defining win at Ole Miss, the Memphis Tigers looked to avoid a letdown loss to a hungry Tulsa Golden Hurricane team. They certainly didn't disappoint in a wild 66-42 victory over Phillip Montgomery's potent Tulsa offense in a game where multiple records were broken and defense was entirely optional.
Memphis opened with an initial salvo of a 58 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Paxton Lynch to a wide open Tevin Jones, who had somehow gotten entirely behind the Golden Hurricane secondary. Tulsa would eventually answer with a punt return down to Memphis's 36, and then quarterback Dane Evans immediately connected with senior wide receiver Keyarris Garrett for a big touchdown reception.
The two combatants then traded scores on methodical drives to tie the game at 14-14. Then Memphis hit their next gear.
The Tigers would cash in for three touchdowns on their next four drives, slicing through Tulsa's hapless defense on both the ground and through the air as Doroland Dorceus helped supplement Memphis's aerial attack to keep the Golden Hurricane defense honest. However, Lynch was really the catalyst as his accurate throws and wide open receivers sliced through Tulsa's secondary with double moves and creating separation from defenders.
The end result was that Lynch had already racked up 300 yards in passing by halftime, and Memphis had rained 35 points on the Golden Hurricane at the break.
However, Tulsa did have one exclamation point before the two teams went to the locker room.
h/t: Belle Es You
Seriously, Memphis. KNOCK. IT. DOWN.
Unfortunately for Tulsa, any momentum gained by the incredible reception by Keyarris Garrett was squandered at the start of the third quarter as Evans and company went three and out, then Memphis responded with a 45 yard bomb from Lynch to Mose Frazier. The Tigers would plunge it in from there.
Tulsa would respond with another huge connection from Evans to Garrett as the senior receiver dragged a foot at the right edge of the end zone to cut Memphis's lead to 42-28. One Tigers punt later, and Dane Evans exposed the Memphis secondary with an 80 yard touchdown pass to Joshua Atkinson to cut the lead to 42-35.
But Memphis wouldn't stay quiet for long. Paxton Lynch led a methodical 10 play, 78 yard drive down the field and scrambled into the end zone himself with 5:34 left in the 3rd quarter.
At that point, things would settle down, but only slightly. Memphis would--shockingly enough--stall on an 11 play, 60 yard drive and settle for a 30 yard field goal. The Tigers would head into the 4th quarter leading 52-35, and soon after Tulsa would make a fateful decision that ultimately would seal their doom.
The Golden Hurricane went for it on 4th and 2 at their own 45 with freshman quarterback Chad President, but a poor snap by their freshman center caught President by surprise and led to a disorganized scramble that ended up short. Memphis would strike soon after, riding a personal foul by Tulsa's defense into the red zone and scoring on a laser of a throw from Lynch to an outstretched Tevin Jones in the back of the end zone.
Down 59-35, Tulsa tried to keep up. They managed a drive into Memphis territory, and then Dane Evans just sort of....dropped the ball while running out of bounds. Luckily for him, Memphis would only punt after the fumble recovery.
Here is the proof, y'all. https://t.co/8j7vYx9Vih— Underdog Dynasty (@underdogdynasty) October 24, 2015
Keyarris Garrett did his best to carry Tulsa, as he had torched Memphis for a 44 yard reception to set up a 4-yard Tulsa touchdown run by all-name 1st teamer Rowdy Simon. However, Memphis ultimately iced the game by forcing a fumble after catch from Tulsa's hero at wideout with about 4 minutes left.
Jamarius Henderson then ran a power play up the middle and busted through Tulsa's demoralized defense to put the cherry on top for Memphis, 66-42.
Here are some absolutely bonkers stat lines and records from this game:
Memphis QB Paxton Lynch - 32 of 44, 447 yards (school record), 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Memphis RB Doroland Dorceus - 32 carries, 138 yards (4.3 YPC), 2 TDs
Memphis RB Jamarius Henderson - 14 carries, 112 yards (8 YPC), 2 TDs
The whole damn Memphis receiving corps:
Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett - 14 receptions, 268 (!) yards, 3 touchdowns
American Football (@American_FB) October 24, 2015
Tulsa QB Dane Evans - 24 of 36, 422 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 1 fumble
Evans has 405 passing yards this game. He has 4 career 400 yard passing games, tying Billy Guy Anderson's school record. #TulsaFB— Tulsa Football (@TulsaFootball) October 24, 2015
Tulsa certainly had quite a few positives to glean from this game, but they'll need to clean up the mistakes in order to hang with the likes of Memphis or Houston.
The Tigers did what good teams do and avoided the letdown after a program-defining victory, but questions about their ability to run the AAC table might spring up after their defense was torched by Tulsa's "Art Briles" offense. However, this is the same Tulsa team that put up 38 on Oklahoma, so perhaps those concerns may be overblown.
For his part, Memphis HC Justin Fuente wasn't satisfied with his team's performance. Although he stated he liked his team's energy, he didn't like his team's focus or the mistakes made. Talk about a perfectionist after a 66 point performance.
Memphis improves to 7-0 as the really meaty part of their schedule comes up, while an improved but outmatched Tulsa team falls to 3-4 and 0-3 in the AAC. The Tigers get a bit of a cupcake up next in Tulane before an absolute grinder of a stretch in November, while Tulsa will look to continue their offensive onslaught against a very vulnerable SMU defense.