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Time To Jump On The Tigers’ Bandwagon

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 13, 2007

A couple of times during the season in this very blog, I ripped apart the Memphis Tigers football squad for not doing their part on the field and I pretty much wanted Tommy West with a rope around his neck for the piss-poor recruiting he’s done since DeAngelo left for the NFL in 2005.

I also said on this very blog that the university, for the most part, didn’t care about the football program and the best thing to do is ditch the program and just focus on the cash cow that is the basketball program.

But, for whatever strange reason, the Tigers are sitting one dragon slay away from earning the school’s fourth Bowl bid in five seasons should they win against UAB at home on Saturday afternoon after beating Southern Mississippi last Saturday in Hattiesburg.

And in the process making people like myself, who spent countless days at home counting down to the start of the basketball season, eat large servings of humble pie.

Before we got to this point of figuring out what Bowl game the Tigers would be playing in and what they needed to do in order to win their first Conference Championship of any kind in football since 1971, the Tigers, at the end of Septembe,r was on the fast track to being one of the worst in school history after being blown out on the road at Central Florida and choking against Arkansas State (in what would be the last time Taylor Bradford would suit up for Memphis).

Then, a week after an emotional win over Marshall on National television, the Tigers found themselves on the short end of a 21-7 loss to Middle Tennessee in a mistake-filled game for both teams and, in the process, allowed 490 yards of total offense with another stellar performance by an opposing team’s option quarterback in Dwight Dasher (who subbed for starter Joe Craddock).

But as the saying goes, there’s more to this story.

After being embarassed by Middle Tennessee at home, the Tigers put up nearly 600 yards in a shootout win over Rice on the road and then followed that up with a win over Tulane and one of the country’s best rushers in Matt Forte. This win would put the Tigers in a good position to take first place in the C-USA East with East Carolina coming to town for Homecoming.

But as we all learned from teams like Michigan State and Missouri, teams that always seem to be on the cusp of greatness only to have it slip away from them, the Tigers’ turnaround took a hit when East Carolina did Madden-like numbers on the Tigers’ defense in Memphis and put the Tigers in a very difficult situation as far as their Bowl or C-USA chances were concerned.

That is, until the Tigers turned back the clock to 2005 – when DeAngelo Williams and company went bonkers in Hattiesburg and defeated the Golden Eagles to put themselves in a good position to make a Bowl game – and won their second straight in Hattiesburg behind quarterback Martin Hankins’ 396 passing yards.

And in the process enhanced what looked to be a bleak picture for the Tigers as they entered the game against Southern Mississippi regarding a Bowl bid or their C-USA chances.

Come Saturday, the Tigers will play a struggling UAB team at the Liberty Bowl for a chance to go to their fourth Bowl in five seasons and, in the process, break the jinx that has held them for so long against the Blazers.

Then, to close out the season, a woeful SMU team.

And then maybe, just maybe, a C-USA East Championship.

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