Memphis (2-8) at UAB (3-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (72,000) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Memphis 2-3, UAB 2-3. Away Record: Memphis 0-5, UAB 1-4. Neutral Record: Memphis 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: Memphis 2-4, UAB 2-4. Series Record: UAB leads, 10-4.
GAME NOTES: Memphis gear up for a trip to Legion Field for a battle with the UAB Blazers for the Tigers' final Conference USA road game.
Memphis doubled its win total and improved its overall record to 2-8 last week by defeating Tulane, 37-33, at home. The victory ended a four-game losing slide and gave Justin Fuente the second win of his young head coaching career. The Tigers are departing the Conference USA to the Big East after this season.
Although it was not quite as impressive an upset as last season's win over Southern Miss, UAB delivered another shocker in 2012 with a 38-31 victory over Marshall. The Blazers went into their matchup with the Thundering Herd after a 27-19 win over Southern Miss which snapped a three-game losing streak. Coach Garrick McGee is also in his rookie campaign in charge of the program and has a 3-7 record thus far.
This will the 15th meeting between these schools in history. UAB enters with three-straight wins and a 10-4 series lead over the Tigers. The Blazers escaped Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium with a 41-35 win last season.
Memphis is normally reliant on its rushing attack to move the ball. Therefore it was surprising the Tigers managed to win last week after gaining only 110 yards on 44 attempts versus Tulane. Brandon Hayes (51 yards, 16 carries) and Jai Steib (31 yards, TD, 15 carries) shared the rushing responsibilities in the victory.
Jacob Karam stepped up his play to elevate the Tigers' passing attack, which ranks second to last in the conference. Karam completed 14-of-18 attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns with one interception versus Tulane. Karam is considered an ideal game manager, but the Tigers had a playmaker in the pocket last week.
The passing game is reliant on the efforts of receivers Keiwone Malone and Marcus Rucker. Malone has caught a team-high 42 passes for 434 yards and two scores, while Rucker has 41 catches for a team-high 487 yards and a three TDs.
The Tigers' defense is coming off a strong showing against the Green Wave. It held Tulane to 291 yards of total offense and picked off Ryan Griffin four times in the contest. The only other opponent Memphis managed to hold under 350 yards of total offense prior to Tulane was Rice (221), which is the only other team it has defeated. The Tigers' opposition is averaging 33 ppg.
Sophomore linebacker Charles Harris is the team-leader in tackles with 70. Martin Ifedi (9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks), Tank Jakes (seven tackles for loss), and Johnnie Farms (8.5 tackles for loss) have been effective in stopping opposing ball carriers in the backfield.
UAB is evolving into the most dangerous offensive team in the C-USA with Darrin Reaves leading the charge. The sophomore tailback has racked up 573 yards in his last three games (191 average). Reeves has also rushed for seven touchdowns during that span. The Blazers have amassed more than 200 yards in three straight games.
Freshman Austin Brown seems to be the quarterback of the future in Birmingham, but he is still a work in progress. The rookie completed 20-of-34 attempts for 197 yards with two TDs and three interceptions versus MU last week. Brown has thrown 14 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, while completing 166-of-286 of his passes for 2,283 yards.
Brown has a pair of reliable targets in Nick Adams and Jackie Williams. Adams has been on fire ever since Brown took over the starting QB duties and has 37 catches for 582 yards and one score on the season. Williams has made a reception in all 33 games he has played for UAB. The junior wideout has reeled in 41 passes for a team-leading total of 700 yards and one touchdown.
The UAB defense has been lit up for 432.1 yards per game this season which ranks seventh in the defensively weak C-USA and 88th in the FBS. The Blazers' defensive unit is coming off of its best outing of the season, as it held Marshall to 337 total yards, nearly 200 below the Thundering Herd's average.
UAB does have one of the most active defenders in the nation on its roster in Marvin Burdette, who is tied for the FBS lead with 132 total tackles this season. Burdette also has a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. In the secondary, Lamarcus Farmer has been effective with seven pass breakups and Lamar Johnson has two interceptions.
UAB is a much tougher opponent for Memphis than Tulane was a week ago. Reaves will continue to make his way towards all-conference honors as he pushes the Blazers past Memphis.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 31, Memphis 21
11/14 10:37:44 ET