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What If Series: Could Memphis Win In The SEC?

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The 2014 Tigers showed a toughness and ability to go toe to toe with any team in the country. In a conference where every team feels as if they are great, were exactly would the Tigers stack up?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

If you spend any time in the SEC footprint you will quickly learn that the conference fanbase is anything but humble.  Arrogant may be a better word to describe fans of SEC schools.  Arrogant or entitled, take your pick.  Routinely SEC fans will let you know "(insert any team) would not win a game in the SEC."  Clearly the superiority of being a SEC member, no matter your record, means that you will be better than any team....anywhere.

The University of Memphis is almost squarely located in the middle of SEC country.  Even in the best of years the Tigers never seem to gather the respect of their surrounding peers.  This comes with the Tigers at times beating their peers.  But how would Memphis do if they played a SEC schedule?

To continue the Underdog series on misplaced teams I am kicking Vanderbilt out of the SEC and adding Memphis.  In the spirit of being a team player I have decided to follow the rules set forth by those who have wrote before me.  As established by Chris Hondros and followed by Will Butler, I plan to use the following rules:

1.      Each team had to be simmed to their in-state companions as close as possible.  (This point will be debatable as it should probably be Memphis in place of Tennessee.  However, since Vandy sucked last season we'll kick them out of the SEC and add Memphis)

2.      All sims were conducted using What if Sports' Sim-Matchup.

3.      You can only use the first sim as the official sim, no matter how silly it may seem.

Here we go!

If Memphis had Vanderbilt schedule.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Utah State Aggies 0 14 7 0 21
2014 Memphis Tigers 3 6 14 3 26

The Tigers open their season on the right foot but barely as they squeak out a home win over Utah State.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Mississippi Rebels 7 0 0 21 28
2014 Memphis Tigers 7 7 7 0 21

Yes, the Tigers actually played the Rebels in 2014.  As long as we are being honest, Rebel fans assumed they would simply role Memphis.  While the score would indicate that the Rebels handled the Tigers, hardly was that the case.  A 3 point game late in the 4th needed to see a couple late score by the Rebels to put the game away.

In our simulation the Tigers had a very promising game heading in to the 4th.  Played on a neutral field in Nashville the Tigers were up 21-7 on the Rebel Black Bear Land Sharks going in to the 4th.  Ole Miss, however, made a furious run and scored a heart breaking game winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in the game.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 UMass Minutemen 0 3 0 7 10
2014 Memphis Tigers 21 20 3 7 51

Hide your kids.  Hide your wife.  This one gets out of control quickly!

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 South Carolina Gamecocks 6 21 0 7 34
2014 Memphis Tigers 6 7 14 21 48

The Tigers first SEC win is against the Ole' Ball Coach?  That should make almost everyone happy.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Memphis Tigers 3 13 7 3 26
2014 Kentucky Wildcats 0 0 0 20 20

Could the 2014 Tigers be the real reason the Wildcats decided to shut down their football program?

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Memphis Tigers 0 6 0 14 20
2014 Georgia Bulldogs 13 0 6 0 19

Shut up!  And between the hedges too!  Huge upset, right?

*Side note, like Chris in his article when Marshall beat Bama, I ran this sim 19 additional times.  While the Bulldogs won the majority the Tigers still won a couple.  Either way, rules are rules, right?

FCS - Autowin: Sure, after a huge win at Georgia the Tigers are open for a trap game, but Charleston Southern are certainly not up to task.  Give the Tigers another W.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Memphis Tigers 0 0 7 0 7
2014 Missouri Tigers 3 10 0 11 24

At least the Tigers won, right?

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Old Dominion Monarchs 0 10 0 14 24
2014 Memphis Tigers 3 7 0 3 13

Well, that sucks.  The Tigers has a pretty solid season rolling along and then had the wheels seemingly come off at home.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Florida Gators 0 17 3 3 23
2014 Memphis Tigers 10 6 6 0 22

Chomp Chomp...again, wheels fall off at home.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Memphis Tigers 7 10 0 0 17
2014 Mississippi State Bulldogs 14 10 7 9 40

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Tennessee Vols 3 10 0 3 16
2015 Memphis Tigers 7 10 0 7 24

Vols fans would like to point at the overall series record against the Tigers (the Vols lead the series 22-1).  But in 2014 the Tigers carry all the bragging rights.  The last time the Tigers beat the Vols the goal posts came down.  However, in 2014 I have to believe the posts would stay firmly in place as Memphis fans would expect a win to close out the season.

So by my numbers the Tigers would have finished with a 7-5 record while going 4-4 in the SEC.  That's good enough for T-3 in the SEC East.  Pretty solid year for a team that "wouldn't win a game in the SEC."

If Vanderbilt had Memphis schedule

FCS-Auto win: We'll give Vandy the win over Austin "Let's Go" Peay.

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 0 3 3 7 13
2014 UCLA Bruins 14 14 14 10 52

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 MTSU Blue Raiders 0 0 0 7 7
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 7 10 3 3 23

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 3 7 3 7 20
2014 Mississippi Rebels 7 17 14 14 52

Is there a "get beat by 52 against P5 teams" theme developing here?

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 10 0 0 0 10
2014 Cincinnati Bearcats 14 6 0 13 33

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Houston Cougars 7 0 0 2 9
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 0 6 7 10 23

1 2 3 4 1st OT 2nd OT Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 0 7 0 10 3 0 20
2014 SMU Mustangs 7 10 0 0 3 7 27

Finally, after all these sims, a overtime game!

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Tulsa Golden Hurricane 0 17 3 0 20
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 3 17 10 7 37

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 0 0 7 0 7
2014 Temple Owls 3 7 0 0 10

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 0 7 7 0 14
2014 Tulane Green Wave 3 0 3 0 6

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 USF Bulls 14 7 0 13 34
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 3 14 0 7 24

1 2 3 4 Final
2014 UConn Huskies 3 0 0 6 9
2014 Vanderbilt Commodores 3 6 0 13 22

For those adding up at home it appears as if Vandy would have finished 6-6 (4-4) in the American.  We all know that Temple finished with that exact record and did not go bowling, so likely the same scenario for Vandy.  Though Vandy had an improved record in the AAC I have to believe Temple would get the bowl nod and Vandy would stay home.

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There you have it.  A non-SEC team playing an SEC schedule and getting....wins!  The unthinkable happened!  In all seriousness however, this really isn't too far fetched.  The 2014 Tigers were simply a great team.  In every game the Tigers played they never backed down.  With the grit that the 2014 Tigers showed every week these results seem very possible.  The real question I have is not what if but would Tiger fans join in that "SEC SEC SEC" chant?