By: Anthony Sain ( @SainAsylum )
The Tigers eliminated any chance of a letdown performance before their biggest matchup of the season at Ole Miss by easily defeating Bowling Green 77-3 Saturday night at the Liberty Bowl. Before a crowd of 38,713 the Tigers jumped on the Falcons early with 13:01 remaining in the first quarter when Riley Ferguson connected with Daniel Montiel from 19 yards out. The Tigers would continue to dominate early and lead the Falcons, 35-3 after one quarter. First year Coach Mike Norvell and company wouldn’t ease up in the second quarter as they went on to lead 56-3 at the half, tying a school record for points in a half.
Coach Norvell became the first Memphis football coach to begin his tenure 3-0 and was pleased by his teams preparation and execution on the field.
“I’m really proud of how they prepared and how they came out and performed,” said Coach Norvell. “We talked about starting fast. We knew we were going against an offense that was a tempo offense. We needed to come out and be sharp early offensively. I liked our first drive and the defense came out and gave up a couple of plays on the first drive, getting acclimated, and held them to a field goal. We had a dominant performance all the way around. I’m really proud of our guys. It was the best week of practice that we’ve had.
The 77 points scored against Bowling Green was the second most points in a game in school history. It was also only the sixth time in Memphis history that a team scored 70 or more points in a single game. The Tigers also had 11 different players score touchdowns.
Coach Norvell on the lopsided victory:
“I was really proud of our guys and how they played,” said Norvell. “There have been games in the past that get a little out of hand at the end. I was glad we were able to play quite a few players, get some experience for some of our young linemen, quarterback Jason Stewart was able to get out there and a couple of defensive players. It was good experience for us.”
The still untested Tigers now face easily their biggest challenge of the season as they prepare to travel to Oxford, MS next week as the Tigers face the number 23 ranked Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels, who stomped the Georgia Bulldogs earlier Saturday 45-14 will host the Tigers with revenge in their eyes after losing to the Tigers last season. The Tigers who are yet to have any serious opposition so far this season, will have to truly come ready for a battle in a team in Ole Miss who is much better than their 2-2 record suggest.
Coach Norvell on the task that lies ahead with Ole Miss:
“Every week they are going to get bigger and better,” said Norvell. “All we care about is this week. We know we are going to play arguably the most talented team in the country. They have had two 21-point leads against top-10 teams in the country. We know there is going to be a great challenge in front of us. We are going to enjoy tonight. We are going to focus on making sure we are making correct decisions.”
“We are going to come to work first thing in the morning and prepare just like we do every single week. I’m proud of our guys with how we have started. You talk about building trust. Trust is something that has to be earned and we are doing some things a little different than they have been done in the past. I was really pleased to see our guys taking a step. Each game we have shown flashes of getting better but we know we have our biggest challenge to date this week. We have to go to work and continue to focus on us.”