Memphis might have gotten the better of Cincinnati last week, but anything and everything can happen on conference championship weekend.
Ridder, who has completed over half of his passes just once in the last four games, was injured and didn’t play in the Bearcats’ loss against the Tigers last week, as backup Ben Bryant had to get thrown to the wolves. Ridder isn’t an all-world arm talent, but his ability to improvise when the play breaks down and make big throws when Cincy needs him to was sorely missed. Ridder should have an easy time exploring a very beatable Memphis secondary.
The aptly named freshman running back has done an excellent job replacing the production of Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, as 1,381 rushing yards, 492 receiving yards, and 15 total touchdowns have cemented his status as one of the best do-it-all backs in the country. Gainwell was held to just 87 yards on the ground against Cincinnati, but he was given only given 15 carries. Norvell is probably going to ride Gainwell until the wheels fall off.
These two teams are as different as they come, but both Memphis and Cincinnati managed to grind out win after win. Both have their faults, as Memphis’ Brady White is by no means an overly scary presence at quarterback and the Bearcats lack the weapons to win a shootout with Norvell’s Tigers. This game is almost assuredly going to come down to the wire, but Norvell’s offensive innovation gives Memphis a slight edge.
Memphis 31, Cincinnati 27: Don’t think “Godfather, Part II”, think a sequel on par with “Shrek 2” or “Rocky II”. Memphis survives another thriller and claims its first outright conference title since 1969. Next stop, the Cotton Bowl.
Memphis 31, Cincinnati 27: The rematch with the Bearcats will go down to the wire. But if this turns out to be Mike Norvell’s last game as the Tigers’ coach, he’ll get a fitting send off — the program’s first outright conference championship in 50 years.