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Season-ending streak buoys Tigers

A football season that felt painfully long amid a string of losses has come to a close for a University of Memphis Tigers' football team that ended on a roll.

A 42-24 trouncing of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles last weekend (Nov. 24) improved the Tigers record to 4-8 (4-4 C-USA) on the year.

The loss sealed a 0-12 season for the Golden Eagles – the only school in FBS football this year unable to record a single win. It's the first time since 1925 that USM has been held winless for an entire year. Golden Eagle fans were left reeling just a season after USM went 12 and 1 en route to the C-USA title.

The Tigers ended their season with a three-game win streak and some serious momentum headed into the off-season. This energy is much needed as Memphis prepares to leave the C-USA for the Big East next season. With a better conference comes stiffer competition.

A few other teams from C-USA (SMU, UCF, Houston, ECU and Tulane) will be making the transition into the Big East as well, but teams like Boise State, Cincinnati and South Florida make winning football games in the Big East a tall order.

At issue, however, is this: What teams will actually be in the Big East come 2013 or 2014? Memphis pursued the move to a bigger, better conference for some time. Now that they actually have, it all might be a mirage.

With news this week of Louisville leaving the Big East for the ACC, the Big East got noticeably weaker. Speculation about Rutgers, UConn and Cincinnati looking to jump ship will also play out over the next few months.

And with these changes swirling, Boise State and San Diego State could be questioning their position in the Big East and choose to return to the Mountain West.

That's a lot of "what ifs," but that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. If the dominos do start to fall, Memphis could be stuck in C-USA version 2.0.

If those teams do leave, the Big East will still be a strong basketball conference. And the football Tigers likely would be on a quicker timeline toward becoming more competitive.

The murkiness of Big East conference alignment aside, the Memphis True Blue Nation has to be excited about the Tigers ending the season on a three-game win streak and about what next season may hold for Memphis under head coach Justin Fuente.

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