Memphis Kickers Set To Clash On Football’s Biggest Stage

Super Bowl Week is finally here. The Super Bowl is great for many reasons, and only one of those reasons is that sometimes we get to see remarkable shit happen that we usually remember for a long time. But what really makes the Super Bowl great is that there’s something for everyone, not just grown ass men who wear jerseys of other grown ass men.

For example, for the “foodies” out there, a party for the big game is always a great time to not only make your favorite dish, but also eat your friends’ (or a stranger’s) favorite plate. For the pop culture junkies, you have the halftime entertainment and of course, the commercials, which Young Goat gives a fat NOPE in his latest piece, and encourages you instead to look into prop betting. It’s also a just a great time to be around friends and appreciate the good times, while having a built-in excuse for being hungover at work on Monday.

And this year, we as University of Memphis Tiger Football fans, have our very own reason why Super Bowl LII will be great. No matter whether the Patriots continue their reign over the NFL or if the Eagles pull off the upset, a Memphis Tiger will walk away a Super Bowl Champion. Of  course, all of the headlines are on Tom Brady continuing to add on to his GOAT legacy, the Eagles stifling defense, and revisiting Nipplegate.

But ever since the teams for the Super Bowl have been set, fans of the Memphis Tigers have mainly been talking about the duel between the two kickers, Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots who once held the record for most field goals made and total points scored in Tiger football history, and JakeElliott of the Eagles who came through campus a decade later and replaced Gostkowski at the top of the record books.

Gostkowski is looking to win his 3rd Championship since coming into the league in 2005, while Elliott is just a rookie, but already has some big kicks under his belt, including a 61-yard game-winner against the New York Giants in September, that ignited a 9 game winning streak for Philadelphia.Gostkowski is the 6’1 215-pounder who once was a pitcher for the U of M baseball team, Elliott is the 5’9 170-pounder who focused on tennis until his junior year of high school.

While at Memphis, Gotti, as he is commonly referred to by fans of the Tigers, took part in 27 wins for the program, overcoming a 3-9 record in his freshman season before going to 3 straight bowl games, something that had never been done in the history of the Memphis program. In fact, the Tigers had participated in just 1 bowl game prior to Gostkowski’s tenure, the Pasadena Bowl in 1971.  Throughout his career, Gotti connected on 70 of 92 field goal attempts, good for 76%, to go along with 159 extra points out of a potential 165, which left him as the leading scorer in school history with 369 total points.

In similar fashion to Gostkowski, Jake Elliott’s career at Memphis also started with a 3-9 record in his freshman season before the Tigers once again appeared in 3 straight bowl games while winning 30 combined games. Elliot was able to connect on 81 out of 104 field goal attempts, and was perfect on 202 extra point tries. Of course, these numbers pushed Gostkowski down to 2nd throughout the record books and Elliot became the all-time leading scorer in the history of Memphis football with 445 total points scored.

The Patriots kicker, currently in his 12th season in the NFL after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 draft to replace the legendary Adam Vinatieri, already has 2 Super Bowl rings to his name, and has connected on 88% of his field goal attempts throughout his career  and misfired on just 6 extra point attempts, 5 of which have come since the attempts were moved from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line.

The rookie in Philly, who was drafted in the 5th round by the Cincinnati Bengals before being cut just before the season started, quickly introduced himself to the NFL by kicking the aforementioned 61-yard game winner in just his 2nd game of his career and was highlighted by the clip below of Carson Went saying he’d give Elliot his game check if he made the long attempt. Elliott has connected on 84% of his field goal attempts and has missed just 3 of his extra point attempts.

And as great as it is to have these two ambassadors of the Memphis Football program on the biggest stage there is in football, one of those guys, and Tiger fans alike, could head home with a pit in their stomach if one of them were to miss a field goal late in the game. And looking at history, the chances of this being a close game are pretty damn good.

The Patriots are currently 4.5 point favorites of the Eagles, and expected by most fans to handle Philly en route to their 6th Super Bowl win. However, looking at the history of the  big game, that may not be the case.

In 7 out of the last 10 Super Bowls, the underdogs have not only covered the spread, but they have won the game outright. In another one of these 10 games, the underdog covered the spread, but lost in a close one.

In the history of the Super Bowl, only 7 games have been decided by a field goal or less, with 4 of those games involving New England and 5 of the games taking place since 2000. For reference, the Super Bowl has been around since 1967. Diving a little deeper, only 14 out of the 51 Super Bowls have been decided by a possession (8 points) or less, with half of those games involving the Patriots and 11 of the 14 games taking place since 2000.

Gostkowski connected on 4-4 attempts from 50+ yards in the regular season, but missed his lone, long-range attempt so far in the Playoffs. Elliott was 5-6 from 50+ during the regular season, and connected on his only deep attempt so far in the Playoffs. All 3 of Gotti’s misses in the regular season came within the 40-49 yards range, while Elliot was 12-13 from the same range.

Gostkowski nailed a career-long 62-yarder in a game played in the thin air of Mexico City this season. Elliott has the now-famous 61-yarder that could very well wind up as the longest make of his career.

Other than 11 years of experience and 2 Super Bowl rings, there is not a lot that separates these two former Tigers. Tom Schad had a great article on their relationship when he was the beat writer for Memphis Football.

As Tiger fans, we may never experience another Super Bowl with former Tigers playing such important roles for the rest of our lives. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this historic game, with Memphis Football so well represented on the biggest stage possible. Oh, and hope that neither of them miss so we don’t have to feel that damn pit in our stomach Sunday night and Monday morning at the office.

P.S.- My prediction? Eagles win it on an Elliott game winner and Gostkowski once again passes the torch, this time as best kicker in the league, to the young buck who already rewrote all of Gostkowski’s college records.

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