You saw what happened.
For the second time in two months, the Memphis Tigers blew it.
In two first halves, they outscored the UCF Knights 68-38. Their running game was dominant, led by the nation’s leading rusher Darrell Henderson. They were swarming on defense and seemed to rattle the Knights.
It was them who looked like the eighth ranked team in the country, not the other way around.
But football games have two halves.
In the two second halves of their matchups, the Knights have outscored the Tigers 49-3. Think about that. A forty-six point discrepancy.
The worst part about this one is that we saw it happen once already. We saw the Tigers control the game and look like they were well on their way to an upset victory.
A 38-21 halftime lead made us forget all about the miseries of that rainy Saturday afternoon in October. We fell back into the same trap.
The running game was nonexistent. After 203 rush yards in the first half, Darrell Henderson rushed for seven in the second half.
The defense proceeded to get picked apart like the team in black was a group of surgeons.
Oh, and their quarterback McKenzie Milton did not play because of the knee injury he suffered (may he get well soon).
It was Darriel Mack Jr., the backup quarterback, who rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two. He had over 400 total yards and led the comeback.
This one hurts. More than the first one. The spirits were sucked right out of their bodies. They looked like a bunch of zombies in white and blue football uniforms.
This season as a whole fell short of expectations. Losses to Navy and Tulane earlier in the season left us scratching our heads. Underwhelming performances in too many of the games left causes for concern.
We can live with that, though. What is tough to live with is knowing that the Tigers gave the Knights their two toughest fits, by far, over their last two seasons of football. It is tough to live with knowing that the Tigers should have beaten them two times.
But the “should haves” in sports are not important. All that matters is what did happen.
Tigers fans still need to keep holding their heads up high. This is a team with loads of talent and just a few tweaks away from something special.
Congratulations to the UCF Knights. As football fans, we should all appreciate the beautiful product that they have put on the field the last couple of seasons. They are a great program and deserve much more national recognition.
To everyone in the 901, we have seen worse. This will sting for a bit, but we are tough and resilient.
We will be back.
Go Tigers Go.
Feature Image: [Mark Weber, The Commercial Appeal]