Tulsa (1-6) at Memphis (4-3) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,008) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: ESPN2 or ESPNU. Home Record: Tulsa 1-3, Memphis 2-1. Away Record: Tulsa 0-3, Memphis 2-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 1-2, Memphis 2-1. Series Record: Memphis leads, 14-10.
GAME NOTES: The Memphis Tigers will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in an American Athletic Conference contest at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Tulsa would settle for any type of victory at this point, having fallen in six straight outings since narrowly defeating Tulane in double-overtime in the season opener. With only five games left to play, the Golden Hurricane's slim chances at a bowl game could be extinguished with a loss to the Tigers.
As for the Tigers, they appear to be on pace for a bowl berth. They sport a 4-3 overall record entering this contest. However, they have never been able to pick up momentum in either direction, never winning or losing consecutive games. They earned a very convincing 48-10 road victory against SMU last weekend.
These former Conference USA rivals have not met since 2010, when their roles were very much reversed. The Tigers went just 1-11 that season, while the Golden Hurricane finished 10-3, which included a 62-35 victory over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. The difference was clear on the field, with Tulsa easily taking a 48-7 win from Memphis. The Tigers have lost four straight against the Golden Hurricane, but they lead the all-time series, 14-10.
Although Tulsa lost to South Florida last time out, it did manage to post a 27-7 halftime lead before crumbling. It certainly wasn't the offense's fault, with the Golden Hurricane posting 488 total yards, their second-best performance of the season. Tulsa is now fourth in the AAC in total offense (433.3 ypg).
The connection between receiver Keevan Lucas and quarterback Dane Evans is one of the most powerful parts of the unit. Lucas has reeled in 64 balls for 809 yards and eight touchdowns. He leads the AAC in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown grabs and receptions per game (9.1). After Lucas, there is no other receiver with more than 30 receptions or 400 yards, with Conner Floyd (15 receptions, 124 yards, three TDs) the only other player with more than one touchdown reception.
Evans has benefited from Lucas' strong play, although he has still made plenty of mistakes. He has an efficiency rating of 121.35 on the campaign, completing 56.3 percent of his pass attempts for 1,941 yards and 12 touchdowns, marred by nine interceptions, which is tied for the most in the league.
When Tulsa draws up a run play, Zach Langer is usually the top option. He has carried the ball 105 times in six games, picking up 436 yards and three touchdowns, all team-highs. He gained 100 yards against USF. Bishop Louie added 51 yards in the loss, but James Flanders (330 yards) is the second- leading rusher on the season.
Tulsa really needs help on defense. After all, it let a 20-point lead slip away against a USF squad that is averaging 307.5 yards and 21.1 points per game. In fact, no team besides SMU has been worse on the defensive side of the ball than the Golden Hurricane, who are presently surrendering 40.7 points and 494.4 yards per game.
The Tulsa defense better be ready to face a physical team, as Memphis leads the AAC in rushing (200.7 ypg). The Tigers' ground game powers the AAC's second-best scoring offense (35.5 ppg).
It would seem Brandon Hayes reclaimed his spot atop the depth chart against SMU, as the Tigers' running back, one of many productive performers this season, finished with a season-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Jarvis Cooper was also utilized quite often, finishing with 93 yards and two touchdowns. Hayes lead the team with 332 yards, while Sam Craft (302 yards) and Cooper (264 yards) are also important pieces. Depth may be an issue this week, with Doroland Dorceus (237 yards) is questionable with a leg injury.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch can also move the ball on the ground, although he is only averaging 23.5 rushing yards per game. He has picked it up as a passer, however, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes for 1,708 yards and 10 touchdowns, compared to six interceptions. He was on point against SMU, finishing with 307 yards and a score on 17-of-23 passing.
Tevin Jones (25 receptions, 322 yards, two TDs) and Keiwone Malone (22 receptions, 286 yards) are the club's top receiving threats.
Memphis is a much better defensive team than Tulsa, as the Tigers rank third in the AAC in points allowed (19.3 ppg) and in total defense (342 ypg). The key has been pressure, with the Tigers sitting second in the league in tackles for loss (52) and third in sacks (18). Tank Jakes powers the unit, having logged six sacks and a conference-best 12 tackles for loss.
Playing against Memphis is a real challenge due to the Tigers' unrelenting physical presence on both sides of the ball. Although they may be down one running back, there are still plenty of options for the Tigers to ground the Golden Hurricane.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 31, Tulsa 17Game Date and Time
Friday, October 31, 8:02 p.m. (ET)