It's the closest the Tigers will likely come to consecutive bye weeks. With two weeks to prepare for this afternoon's game in Dallas, the U of M left little doubt these two programs are heading in opposite directions. Two years after losing on the same field, 44-13, the Tigers gained 582 yards (230 on the ground), nearly matching the 610 they piled up in a win at Cincinnati three weeks ago. Quarterback Paxton Lynch completed 17 of 23 passes for 307 yards — a stellar 13.3 yards per attempt — before being removed for Jason Stewart after the game was decided late in the third quarter.
Thanks in part to a Lynch fumble recovered by the Mustangs in Tiger territory, the score was only 7-0 after the first quarter, the lone touchdown a 54-yard catch-and-run by freshman wideout Phil Mayhue. Memphis opened things up in the second quarter, though, scoring three touchdowns on the ground: one-yarders by Jarvis Cooper and tight end Alan Cross and a 38-yard scamper by senior Brandon Hayes. A 37-yard field goal by Jake Elliott made the score 31-7 and put the game out of reach at halftime.
A 7-yard touchdown run by Cooper and a 29-yard scoring pass from Stewart to freshman Robby Young (a graduate of Christian Brothers High School) highlighted the second half for the Tigers, who improved to 4-3 with the win (2-1 in American Athletic Conference play). The margin of victory is the Tigers' largest over an FBS opponent since a 45-6 win over Tulane in 2008.
Hayes topped the century mark in rushing with 101 yards on just 13 carries, while Cooper added 93 yards on 16 attempts. Ten different receivers caught passes for the Tigers, Tevin Jones leading the way with five receptions for 70 yards.
The Tigers held SMU to 251 yards of offense and forced a pair of turnovers. The victory ends a three-game losing streak for Memphis in the series.
The Tigers return to the Liberty Bowl for a rare Friday night tilt (Halloween football!) with Tulsa on October 31st. The Golden Hurricane has struggled almost as much as SMU with a record of 1-6. Three straight bye weeks?