The Tigers capitalized on a turnover-prone Tulane squad to win their fourth straight game and retain a hold on first place in the American Athletic Conference. The winning streak is the program's longest since 2003. With an overall record now of 7-3, Memphis has clinched its first winning season since going 7-6 in 2007.
Memphis scored the only ten points of the first half, the first touchdown coming on a 15-yard interception return by senior cornerback Bobby McCain just 1:55 into the game (the 11th pick of McCain's career). Sophomore kicker Jake Elliott connected on a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter, a rare highlight in a half that featured a total of nine punts, four turnovers, and two missed field goals.
The Tigers extended the lead to 17-0 a little over five minutes into the second half on a 38-yard pass from Paxton Lynch to Mose Frazier. Lynch later scored on a four-yard run, his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. This was the fifth game of the season Lynch has both passed and run for touchdowns.
A week after upsetting Houston, Tulane (3-7) turned the ball over five times. Sophomore cornerback Dontrell Nelson picked off a Tanner Lee pass late in the third quarter and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. Those turnovers were the difference in a game that the Green Wave offense actually outgained the Tigers (351 yards to 334). Brandon Hayes and Robert Davis led Memphis on the ground with merely 47 yards each. (Davis scored the game's final touchdown with just over a minute to play.) Lynch completed 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and moved into third place on the Memphis career passing-yardage chart (behind Danny Wimprine and Martin Hankins).
Now 5-1 in conference play, Memphis can clinch the AAC title with wins at the Liberty Bowl the next two weeks. South Florida (3-6 entering tonight's game at SMU) visits next Saturday and Connecticut travels south for the regular-season finale on November 29th. The last time the Tigers won nine games in a regular season: 1963. (The 2003 team finished 9-4 after winning the New Orleans Bowl.)