Memphis is For Real
Sure, people expected there to be a lot of points scored Saturday night in Memphis but not a lot of people expected the teams to combine for over 100 points.
The 24th ranked University of Memphis Tigers pulled out a 54-48 win over the previously unbeaten 15th ranked Southern Methodist University Mustangs. With the win, the Tigers improved to 19th in the NCAA rankings and the Mustangs dropped to 23rd, a well documented projection in reviews of sportsbooks. Both the Tigers and Mustangs now each have a record of eight wins and one loss. However, it was a devastating loss for Southern Methodist as they saw their chances of having an undefeated season come to an end.
Only once in the Mustangs history have they gone through their entire season winning all of their games played. That came in 1923 when they had a record of nine wins and zero losses and were Southwest Conference Champions.
On Saturday, the Tigers passing attack was in full force. Quarterback Brady White of Newhall, CA completed 19 of 33 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns. From the wide receiver perspective, Damonte Coxie of Reserve, LA and Antonio Gibson of Stockbridge, GA had massive games. Coxie had seven catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Gibson had six catches for 130 yards and one touchdown.
The Tigers had a 23-17 lead at halftime, and outscored the Mustangs 17-7 in the third quarter to take a 40-24 lead. The Mustangs did outscore the Tigers 24-14 in a wild fourth quarter, but did not make up the 16 point deficit after the third quarter to tie the game.
Mustangs quarterback Shane Buechele of Arlington, TX did have 456 passing yards himself and three touchdowns. but it was not enough. On the ground, Tigers running back Antonio Gibson of Stockbridge, GA only had three carries, but one carry was huge as it was for 78 yards and a touchdown.
There are two monumental NCAA Football games next week. In the Big Ten, two undefeated teams will play against each other as the fifth ranked Penn State Nittany Lions play the 13th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Also in the SEC, the first ranked Louisiana State University Tigers play the second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Cornhuskers Attempt A Response
Prior to head coach Bill McCartney, Colorado had not enjoyed much football success in a while. But even McCartney’s tenure started slow before he broke through with a win that showed the Buffaloes were a national player on this day 30 years ago.
Colorado was ranked No. 2 in the nation as No. 3 Nebraska came to Folsom Field on Nov. 4, 1989. With both teams undefeated in Big 8 play, the contest served as a de facto Big 8 title game. The Buffaloes had not won the conference since 1976 and had done so just twice in 41 years as a member. When all was said and done, that feat had been all but accomplished in a 27-21 victory.
Despite Colorado being 8-0, it was Nebraska that tried to set the tone. The Cornhuskers started at midfield after Tyrone Byrd intercepted Buffaloes’ quarterback Darian Hagan on the opening drive near midfield. It took Nebraska just one play on offense to go ahead as Gerry Gdowski found Bryan Carpenter on a screen pass that went 51 yards to make it 7-0 just 90 seconds in.
It didn’t take the Buffaloes long to answer or Hagan long to atone. Less than nine minutes later, Colorado found itself up, 14-7.
After starting a possession at its own 30-yard-line, running back J.J. Flannigan scored a 70-yard touchdown on an option pitch from Hagan about 30 yards downfield. After a nice punt return from Jeff Campbell set the Buffaloes up inside the Nebraska 5-yard-line, Colorado capped a 3-play, 4-yard march with a 1-yard touchdown run from Hagan with more than five minutes to play in the first quarter.
That would be the last touchdown of the first half for Colorado, but it did take a 17-14 lead into the locker room. After Gdowski found Morgan Gregory for a 12-yard scoring strike on 3rd-and-goal to even the game for Nebraska with less than 12 minutes to play in the second quarter, Colorado kicker Ken Culbertson’s 49-yard field goal late in the first half put the Buffaloes ahead for good.
Flannigan’s second rushing touchdown of the game midway through the third quarter gave the Buffaloes their biggest lead of the day, but Nebraska would cut it back to three late in the third quarter on Gdowski’s third touchdown pass — a 26-yard strike to Chris Garrett.
Culbertson would cap the scoring with a 28-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter and from there, the Colorado defense did the rest. With Nebraska driving and less than four minutes to play, Colorado defensive tackle Joel Steed came up with a key tackle for loss on Gdowski. Facing 4th-and-6, the Buffaloes were able to force an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
Nebraska would get the ball back at its own 12-yard-line with less than two minutes to play following a 62-yard punt from Tom Rouen and proceed to march into Colorado territory. But with time ticking away, Gdowski’s Hail Mary as time expired was knocked to the turf.
Flannigan finished with 96 yards rushing to go with two touchdowns while Hagan rushed for 118 yards in the win. Gdowski accounted for 280 total yards and three touchdown passes in the loss.
Nebraska finished with 397 yards of offense to just 227 for the Buffaloes, but special teams were the difference on that Senior Day afternoon in Boulder. Colorado would beat Oklahoma State and Kansas State to finish the regular season undefeated and ascend to No. 1 in the polls. Unfortunately, a 21-6 loss to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl would cost the program its first national championship.
What the Buffaloes did do that season was claim the Big 8 title for the first time in 13 years. That would not have been possible without a win in a match-up of top-3 teams that took place on this day 30 years ago.
The Day the Heisman Trophy Campaign was Defined.
It was Oct. 31, 1959 as No. 1 as defending national champion LSU played host to third-ranked Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. The contest saw just one touchdown, but that score would be the lasting memory for eventual Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon.
Both the Tigers and Rebels were 6-0 when the teams met at Tiger Stadium. The defenses headlined both teams. To that point, Ole Miss had allowed just seven points all season. LSU had allowed just six.
Through three quarters, the defenses lived up to their reputations. A first-half field by Ole Miss had accounted for all the scoring. About 10 minutes remained in the game when Rebels’ punter Jake Gibbs stepped back to punt.
Gibbs had been instructed to keep the ball away from Cannon, who had already had an interception to that point. That was Gibbs’ intention, but not the result. Cannon caught the ball at his own 11-yard-line before making defenders miss and going down the sideline for an 89-yard touchdown.
Ole Miss would threaten later in the contest, but the LSU defense came away with a big goal line stop on the Rebels’ Doug Elmore to seal the victory. Unfortunately for LSU, its dreams of a repeat would die a week later in a 14-13 loss at Tennessee. Ole Miss would get revenge with a 21-0 victory in a Sugar Bowl rematch on New Year’s Day.
As for Cannon, he would win the Heisman Trophy in 1959 by one of the most lopsided votes ever. Cannon would go on to be the No. 1 pick in both the 1960 AFL and NFL Drafts before playing 11 years professionally and scoring 64 career touchdowns. The defining moment of his college career however, came on this day 60 years ago.