The Tigers had a big year in 2016. They replaced their head coach, lost a quarterback who went in the first round of the NFL draft, changed schemes, and still managed to win eight games including beating a ranked team. Mike Norvell set the bar high for the next coach that takes over the program by rewriting the record books for every previous first-year man.
Things only figure to get better in 2017 with a whopping 17 returning starters that includes four back on the offensive line and three back on the defensive line. In 2015 under HC Justin Fuentes (Virginia Tech) and QB Paxton Lynch, this team opened a season 4-0 (8-0 before going 1-5 down the stretch) for the first time since 1961. This year, the Tigers have a real chance of opening the season 7-0 before their October 19th showdown at Houston.
Norvell is just 34 and considered an offensive genius after serving as the OC at Arizona State. DC Chris Ball has Alabama in his pedigree and came with Norvell from Tempe. Both units have a year under their belts using the new schemes and figure to be much better in their second year.
Last Season ATS Record & Betting Trends
Memphis Season Schedule (Conference & Non-Conference Opponents)
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
Memphis actually inadvertently upgraded its schedule by switching out Ole Miss with UCLA. In 2015, Memphis scored a monumental win for the program by upsetting Mississippi 37-24 at the Liberty. The Rebs were quite understandably in a foul mood when the spanked Memphis 48-28 in Oxford last year. After two somewhat challenging tune-ups, the Tigers host Jim Mora’s Bruins and future NFL gunslinger Josh Rosen. UCLA will either be riding high over wins over Texas A&M and Hawaii or doubly dangerous with a loss to A&M as the Bruins will not want their season circling the drain at 1-2 after three games.
Should the Tigers get by UCLA, they have three softies before hosting rebuilding Navy at home. A win over the Middies would have Memphis 7-0 heading to Houston. A win over the Cougars would likely have the Tigers 9-0 and playing for the West division title at Tulsa on October 27th. A win over the Golden Hurricane with a bye week, and home games vs. SMU and East Carolina would have Memphis 12-0 and with a win in the AAC Championship game would have the Tigers as a possible party crasher in this years FBS playoffs.
Those are a lot of ifs but if Norvell can keep his troops focused and healthy, stranger things have happened.
Memphis Tigers Football Depth Chart & Recruiting Analysis
Memphis is absolutely loaded on offense senior QB Riley Ferguson (3698, 63%, 32-10) calling the shots from behind four starting offensive lineman with their four top running backs and two top receivers back to terrorize opposing defenses. These incude RB Daroland Dorceus (839, 6.1, 9 TDs) and wide out Anthony Miller (95, 1434, 14 TDs). RBs Patrick Taylor and Darrell Henderson both return off year of 500+ yards and better than five yards per carry.
Last year’s Tiger defense was very statistically similar to the 2015 team but … it was a team that had to replace it’s top three tacklers and playing in a completely new scheme. This year, the Tigers return four of their top six tacklers and the linebacking corps in generally considered one of the top two in conference. The key to the stop unit will be whether the front seven can improve it’s pressure on the quarterback and also stop the run .
Future Odds to Win the Conference & Season Win Totals Projection
Regular Season Win Total
AAC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
2017 Season Predictions & Projected Final Standings
The heavy lifting has already been done last year and this year we’ll see if it was all smoke and mirrors. The Tigers have successfully transitioned into a new coach, replaced a star quarteback , and return a boatload of returning starters that all have a year of experience under their belts in the new system.
Last year’s very tough conference schedule is much more manageable this year and this team merely needs to take care of their business to make this the greatest football year ever at the univeristy. Memphis bascially has four must win games to make history. The home game vs. UCLA and the two big road games at Houston and Tulsa with a possible look ahead upset alert from Navy.
Memphis could finish anywhere between 12-0 to 8-4. Our best projection is somewhere in between so we’ll call it 10-2 in what figures to be an exciting and interesting year in Memphis.
American Athletic (West)
American Athletic Record
Win Total Prediction