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And just like that, we are here. The University of Memphis Tigers football is preparing for the AAC Championship game for the third year straight. The only difference is this time, it’s at home. They have a tough challenge ahead of them, though. The Tigers face the Cincinnati Bearcats for the second week in a row. Despite the home field advantage and being a 9 point favorite, beating the same team twice in a row is not going to be easy.
#16 Tigers beat the #21 Bearcats last week 34-24. For the Tigers, Saturday means everything. There is a lot on the line for Memphis. Specifically, the Cotton Bowl. Even though the Tigers had a promising start with a 12-second, 94-yard kick return by Chris Claybrooks, much of the game was down to the wire. At one point, it was as close as a field goal. In addition to that, Cincinnati’s injured QB Desmond Ridder (out with shoulder injury) is expected to make a return in the championship game.
Regardless of how difficult the back to back wins will be, the Tigers have the talent to win again at the Liberty Bowl. If the offense continues to be explosive like it has all season, they will have zero problem putting numbers on the board. If the defense continues to force turnovers, they will have no problem knocking Ridder off of his A-game. Capitalizing on turnovers, however, is necessary.
The Tigers also have the concern of who will be the head coach next season. Coach Mike Norvell has been at the top of every schools’ Christmas list. More specifically, Florida State. Monday, Coach Norvell addressed the coaching rumors.
“I can tell ya…I have one of the best jobs in the country”.
Regardless, Saturday is Memphis’ last opportunity to make their case for a bid to the Cotton Bowl. If Ridder returns and wins the rematch, selection Sunday could be a long day for Memphis fans.