Although both the Memphis Tigers and Marshall Thundering Herd currently reside in the bottom half of Conference USA’s East Division, the fact is these are two teams having radically different seasons. Coach Larry Porter’s Tigers have been getting pounded like the weakest newbie in a prison yard, being on the business end of 48-7, 56-0, 41-19, 56-17, and 50-14 beatdowns in their last six games. Meanwhile, Doc Holliday’s squad has been on a relative roll, winning their last two games, and going 3-3 in their last six after a 0-3 start to the season.
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The Thundering Herd figures to extend that modest winning streak to three games on Saturday. Quarterback Brian Anderson (165-of-291, 1668 yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 interceptions) who threw for 304 yards and tossed three touchdown passes in last Saturday’s 31-17 win over UAB, should find the pickings even easier versus a Memphis secondary that has given up an eye-popping 30 touchdown passes this season. Anderson will look to his favorite targets, wideouts Aaron Dobson (36 catches, 578 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Antavious Wilson (29 catches, 342 yards, 5 touchdowns) often on Saturday.
Marshall played the first half of this season in a fog, but ever since the middle of October, this team has picked up the pieces and gained a much-needed second wind. Over the long haul of a 12-game slate, there are multiple points at which a team can decide to change course and alter the flow of its season. Marshall was mired in a slump that showed no signs of abating, but the Thundering Herd clearly made a commitment to do better, and it’s showing. To be realistic about it all, the 16-12 win over UTEP, achieved on a late touchdown in the fourth quarter, probably gave this team the nudge it so desperately and clearly needed.
As for Memphis, what is there to say really? Thanks for Stax Records, Blues, and BBQ? Unfortunately, the current edition of the Memphis Tigers aren’t doing Bluff City proud. Despite the Tigers’ struggles, senior running back Gregory Ray (122 carries, 557 yards, 3 touchdowns) and sophomore wide receiver Marcus Rucker (28 receptions, 488 yards, 6 touchdowns) have had decent seasons. However, with the secondary hemorrhaging the way it’s been over the past six games, a decent amount of offense won’t compare to the ungodly sums of points this team has been conceding. Memphis has to batten down the hatches on defense if its 2010 campaign is going to improve at all.