The University of Memphis football Tigers only had three games left on their schedule –Tulane, UAB and Southern Miss – heading into last weekend and those remaining opponents only had four total wins between them.
With that knowledge, it looked as if Memphis had a good chance to win some games over the last quarter of the season and take some momentum into the off-season.
Getting the home stretch started right, Memphis recorded a "W" (Nov. 10) over the Tulane Green Wave. The Tigers won 37-23 with their most dominant performance of the year.
Football is a team sport, but the success was largely due to junior QB Jacob Karam. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 270 yards and two touchdown passes. The stellar performance earned Karam the Tennessee Sports Writers Association top offensive player honors for last week.
Passing the ball down the field hasn't been one of Memphis' strong suits this season. This game was much different as Karam had five completions of 20-plus yards. What led to the success?
"When you can run the football, it gives you the opportunity to make big plays in the passing game," said head coach Justin Fuente. That was evident in Memphis' game plan as the Tigers ran the ball 44 times, with only 20 pass attempts.
Still, the Tigers were far from perfect. Memphis committed 3 turnovers, 2 by way of fumble, and was flagged for 6 penalties totaling 81 yards.
Tulane had its fair share of errors recording 10 penalties for 97 yards and 5 turnovers (4 interceptions. 1 fumble). Usually, the Tigers' slip-ups are the ones that come back to haunt them.
Coach Fuente put it into perspective. "We created so many turnovers defensively it hid some of those mistakes that have bit us in previous weeks."
The Tigers travel to Birmingham this weekend (Nov. 17) to take on UAB in their last road match up of the season. UAB is also coming off a strong performance, defeating Marshall on the road and improving to 3-7 on the season.
Fuente has made a big deal of making it hard for opposing teams to come to Memphis and win at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. He knows that traveling to UAB this weekend and returning with a win is going to be a challenge for the Tigers.
Are back to back wins the next step for the Tigers?
"I think that's part of it," said Fuente. "And playing well on the road is part of it too