One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick for Tulsa’s 6:30 p.m. game at Memphis Thursday...
TU running back Deneric Prince
Starting quarterback Davis Brin is still “day to day” according to TU coach Philip Montgomery. Sounds like another game where backup Braylon Braxton gets the call. Braxton did pretty well last week against Tulane. He’s settling into the position OK. Don’t be too thrown by this being his first road start; Memphis doesn’t exactly pack the Liberty Bowl.
Prince can take some of the load off whoever quarterbacks the Hurricane by duplicating his performance his last road game, a 231-yard showcase at Temple Oct. 21. He might have that chance, and not just because Montgomery is liable to lean on the run game away from home.
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Memphis has allowed a 100-yard game by an opposing running back in each of the Tigers’ last three games. Memphis has given up sizable passing totals as well, but again TU is more likely to try to establish the run than have Braxton or Brin come out firing.
The Hurricane rushed for just 111 yards as a team in last week’s loss to Tulane. Prince needs to surpass that number by himself in order for TU to pull an upset here.
Memphis is much better than its four-game losing streak.
The Tigers were 4-1 after hammering Temple 24-3 Oct. 1. The following Saturday, they took a 26-7 lead over Houston 10 seconds into the fourth quarter. They coughed up that 19-point lead in falling 33-32.
Then they coughed up a 17-0 lead in losing a 47-45 quadruple overtime game at East Carolina. Next came back-to-back losses to Tulane (38-28) and UCF (35-28).
Memphis, like TU, is fighting for bowl eligibility. The Tigers, unlike the Hurricane, had a realistic shot to contend in the American Athletic Conference heading into October. They have that kind of talent, they just haven’t closed any deals since dominating Temple.
If quarterback Seth Henigan gets hot Thursday night, and this is a guy who threw for 463 yards at TU last year, the Tigers can close out the Hurricane and officially dash TU’s bowl hopes.
ONE PREPOSTEROUS PREDICTION
A section of Mark Giannotto’s column in the Memphis Commercial Appeal last Saturday: “The Tigers lost another game in which they out-played their opponent for long stretches, only to suffer a death of a thousand cuts brought on mostly by themselves. This was a win that could have preserved (Ryan) Silverfield’s job. Instead, it turned into a moment in which his deficiencies were exposed yet again."
It feels like Silverfield is a goner after this season, his fourth year coaching the Tigers. Prediction: Memphis AD Laird Veatch, a Kansas State alum, strongly considers K-State offensive coordinator Collin Klein to replace Silverfield before hiring another 33-year-old up-and-comer in the Big 12 Conference: TCU OC Garrett Riley.
Memphis 41, Tulsa 28