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Memphis Tigers vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview and Prediction

Justin Fuente

Justin Fuente

The Memphis Tigers are now the top team in the crowded Group of 5 pack chasing for a spot in the New Year's Six. A resounding victory over Ole Miss last week placed Memphis firmly in the pole position at the midway point of the season, and now the Tigers hope to keep things rolling along with a road test this Friday night at Tulsa.

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The Golden Hurricane are 3-3 overall in head coach Philip Montgomery's first season, but are still in search of their first American Athletic Conference (AAC) victory (0-2). Tulsa's offense has been even more productive yardage-wise than Memphis', ranking sixth in the country at 550.5 yards per game. The Tigers are 10th in that category with 532.8 yards per game.

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Memphis at Tulsa

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Memphis -10.5

Three Things To Watch

1. Ole Miss hangover for Tigers?

Any time a school celebrates a signature win, as Memphis did a week ago by coming from behind to stun Ole Miss, the question has to be asked. How does that team follow up their big win? Will Memphis be a bit sluggish out of the gate after letting it all out a week ago, or will these Tigers feed off the momentum building from last week and seize the moment to confirm they are now the Group of 5 leader in the New Year's Six hunt?

2. If you don't know who Paxton Lynch is by now...

Now is the time to make sure you are fully aware who the quarterback for Memphis is. Paxton Lynch led the Tigers to a signature victory last week, and because of that is beginning to draw some attention on what he is doing during this magical run Memphis is on. Lynch will go over the 2,000 passing yard mark Friday night and he has thrown 13 touchdowns to just one interception this season. He should manage to keep the efficiency going against Tulsa, with the Golden Hurricane having just three interceptions this season.

Related: Ranking College Football's Top Heisman Trophy Contenders at Midseason

3. Tulsa's Zack Attack on the Ground

Tulsa's offense is fueled on the ground by running back Zack Langer. The senior has rushed for 11 touchdowns, the most by any player in the AAC after Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. Langer is only averaging 99 rushing yards per game, but his rushing attempts tend to carry some importance for Tulsa. On short yardage downs (1-3 yards), Langer averages 3.06 yards per rushing attempt.

Final Analysis

Memphis may get off to a slow start, but by the time this one is over the Tigers should once again be celebrating a victory with their undefeated record still going. Memphis simply has too much offense and Tulsa lacks enough to keep pace for four quarters. Big plays will come from the Tigers and they should find a way to pull away and slam the door shut in the second half.

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Prediction: Memphis 38, Tulsa 27

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.