Memphis didn’t have a hangover from its upset of Ole Miss. Despite a short week, the Tigers defeated Tulsa 66-42 on Friday night.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch had a career day with 447 yards and four touchdowns on 32-of-44 passing, as well as a rushing score. Like Memphis, the quarterback’s stock (as a potential draft pick) elevated after his team’s 37-24 win against Ole Miss and both should be taken seriously—especially after this win.
Memphis isn’t just “some team” that stumbled its way through an upset of an SEC opponent. The Tigers have improved under Coach Justin Fuente, beginning with their first AAC Conference championship and Miami Beach Bowl win in 2014.
Memphis is making noise.
As an alum of the University of Tennessee and someone who covered the Vols and Vanderbilt last season, I can honestly say that Fuente is — hands down — the best coach in the Volunteer State. When my buddy Seth — older brother to a former Tigers longsnapper — would argue that Memphis could beat the Tennessee, I thought it was just fan bias. But now, I legitimately believe in the Tigers.
This team knows how to win and perform in big games. While doing the game’s highlight package, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said that Memphis — coming off the Ole Miss win — needs to “beat the teams its supposed to beat.”
Memphis — now ranked at No. 18 overall — has two remaining games against ranked opponents. Even still, the Tigers should be favored in all of their remaining games.
So now we face a serious question: If Memphis wins out should it be a College Football Playoff contender? The answer simply is “yes.”
The Tigers have defeated quality competition. The Ole Miss win speaks for itself.
With potential victories against Houston and Temple coming up, the Tigers could have three against ranked opponents when all is said and done.
While it would still be unlikely given the snubs of Baylor and TCU in 2014, Memphis deserves to be taken seriously as a contender of the College Football Playoff should it continue its undefeated streak through the regular season.