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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Football

The opposition: Previewing UH versus Memphis


With a victory over Memphis on Friday night, the 2021 UH football team would become the second team in program history to go undefeated in conference play. | Courtesy of UH athletics

With a victory over Memphis on Friday night, the 2021 UH football team would become the second team in program history to go undefeated in conference play. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

The 2021 Houston football team looks to become just the second team in program history to go undefeated in conference play but will have to get past a Memphis team that has given the Cougars problems for five straight seasons.

Here is everything you know about Friday night’s showdown under the bright lights at TDECU Stadium:

Tigers offense

Memphis has a high-powered offense averaging 31.3 points per game with a balanced attack both through the air and on the ground.

Freshman Seth Henigan has spent the majority of the season under center for Memphis, throwing for 2,778 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year.

Veteran receiver Calvin Austin III has caused defenses problems all season, hauling in 67 receptions for 1,026 yards and eight touchdowns which are all team-highs. Austin has been dealing with injuries the past couple of weeks and how much he plays, if at all, Friday night is still up in the air.

With Austin seeing limited playing time in recent weeks, Rutgers transfer Eddie Lewis has stepped up hauling in nine catches for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the Tigers last two games.

Tight end Sean Dykes has been a staple of the Tigers’ offense, being second on the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.

On the ground, running backs Brandon Thomas and Rodrigues Clark are both averaging 5.8 yards per carry. The two Tigers backs have combined for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Thomas has been banged up and played very limited last week against East Carolina. He is currently listed as probable for Friday’s game.

Tigers defense

Defense has been a struggle for Memphis all year, as the Tigers rank 90th in the FBS in total defense.

On top of allowing 29.2 points per game, turnovers have been a major struggle for the Tigers’ defense as they have only forced eight in 10 games this season.

Linebacker JJ Russell leads the Tigers with 104 tackles and defensive lineman Jaylon Allen has a team-high 4.5 sacks.

How does UH match up with Memphis?

While both the Cougars’ and Tigers’ offenses are high-powered and capable of lighting up the scoreboard, UH has a major advantage defensively.

While Sack Avenue has been quiet the past two weeks, the UH defense is coming off a game in which it held Temple to just eight points and forced three turnovers.

The Cougars also have plenty of motivation for this game not only to complete a perfect season in American Athletic Conference play but to snap the five-game losing streak against the Tigers.

How to watch

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The game can also be heard on KPRC 950 AM.

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