The Tigers outplayed the Knights in just about every facet, but three questionable calls in the last two minutes of the game changed everything. What happened is the definition of a heartbreaking loss. It’s the type of loss that can keep you tossing and turning at night wondering ‘What if?’
But, as tough as it was for Justin Fuente and his team, they cannot dwell on it and soak in sorrow. Not only because the team travels to the Houston Cougars this Saturday, but because doing so would lead to a lot more than one loss in the AAC.
The Tigers have to focus on all the things they did so well instead of what unraveled at the end. They held a UCF offense that averaged 450 yards per game coming in to just 270 yards, including 95 in the first half, and put up 397 yards of total offense against a Knights’ defense that was in the top-40 nationally.
They went toe-to-toe with a UCF team that beat Penn State on the road and lost to South Carolina in the previous week by just three points at home. Excluding the last two minutes, Memphis was the better team all afternoon. And the team needs to realize that if it hadn’t made a few mistakes or a few game-changing plays, the Tigers could have easily won.
They squandered at least three points (and possibly seven) to end the first half with a pick thrown by Paxton Lynch. On UCF’s game-tying drive, safety Lonnie Ballentine had a Blake Bortles pass hit him right in the hands, but he dropped what could have been the game-winning interception.
Plays were left on the field by Memphis, so the Tigers and fans can’t blame just the calls made for the loss. Memphis has a tough game this week at Houston and has to move on. The players just need to look at the huge progress being made and continue to do it. They lost 35-17 last year at the Knights and should have beat them last weekend.
But, that’s how it goes in college football. Memphis should be proud of what they did on the field, and use it as motivation against the Cougars.