Start time: 7:30 PM EST, Thursday, Sept. 24th
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Radio: Memphis - AM 600; Cincinnati - AM 700
Series Record: 19-13, Cincinnati leads
Betting Line: Tigers -10 (66.5 O/U)
On This Date: The Tigers are 6-5 in games played on September 24th with wins against Jonesboro College, Louisiana College, Tennessee Tech, South Carolina, Virgina Tech, and Arkansas and losses to MTSU, Trinity (TX), Tulane, Tulsa, and SMU.
Three Keys to Memphis Victory:
Alan Cross and Daniel Montiel
The Memphis offense has been decently enough balanced so far this season. The Tigers come in to the game averaging 319 yards passing and 251 rushing per game. The offense as well has settled in on its playmakers. Paxton Lynch is an obvious star. Mose Frasier demands attention as he is the leading Tiger receiver (over 5 catches a game). The rush attack has seemed to settle in on the downfield bowling ball that is Doroland Dorceus but teams will also get a steady dose of Jarvis Cooper.
So why pick Cross and Montiel as a key to the game? Cross and Montiel should have a field day on Cincinnati's defense. The Bearcats defense is, again this season, not great. They lack playmakers and have seemed to regressed as the season has evolved. The middle of the field, specifically the Bearcat linebackers, is one of the teams weakest links. While Cooper, Dorceus, and Frasier will get touches and have big games it should be expected to see Lynch have plenty of dump off plays in the middle of the field to his big TE targets.
Force some turnovers
Memphis has done a fantastic job at protecting the ball. Outside of a rash of fumbles during the Kansas game, the Tigers have been very solid protecting the ball. That said, the defense has not been very good at stealing possessions. In the first game of the season against a lowly Missouri State team the Tigers forced 3 turnovers. Since then they have yet to notch a takeaway.
Great as the Tigers offense may be they will eventually need help from the defense in creating possessions. Cincinnati provides a perfect opportunity for the Tigers defense to get on track with turnovers. The Bearcats are one of the worst in the country when it comes to turnover margin. Add to that the fact that the Bearcats could be, at some point, playing a freshman quarterback (provided Kiels final status) and the Tigers should find success turning the ball over. If the line can get pressure then the Tigers defense could be in position to give the offense a short field several times over the course of the game.
The always important home field advantage. Memphis will be playing a formidable foe at home on a Thursday night with ESPN cameras rolling. It was just a few short years ago that the Tigers took part in a Thursday night ESPN game where attendance in the nearly 60k seat Liberty Bowl barely scraped a few thousand attendees. The game Thursday evening should come as a testament as to how far the program has come under the direction of Fuente. With all of that said, a large and loud crowd will go a long way for this Tigers team and program.