MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis has declined to the point of being
the only Conference USA team without a league win.
And the Tigers barely have a win, period.
Memphis (1-6, 0-3 C-USA) saw its losing skid reach five straight
Saturday night as Tulsa displayed all of its tools in an efficient
35-14 victory over the Tigers.
Tulsa (6-1, 3-0) moved atop the West Division with the win,
coupled with UTEP's 34-17 loss to Houston. It marked Tulsa's fifth
consecutive victory as Courtney Tennial rushed for three touchdowns
and quarterback Paul Smith threw for 217 yards and another score.
"It feels good, but we really don't even look at that," Smith
said of the winning streak. "We try to put the blinders on. If you
get to looking around, you're going to get hit right in the
The Tigers probably would like to close their eyes and plug
their ears at this point as they struggle to improve their record.
Their only win came against I-AA Chattanooga. The defense has
struggled, the running game is ineffective and the passing game
under transfer Martin Hankins is sporadic.
After three straight bowl appearances, Memphis' hope of a fourth
is on life support with the Tigers needing to win-out to even reach
"There's five more games, so there's still a chance," said
running back Joseph Doss.
Tulsa controlled the game from its opening two drives. The
Golden Hurricane composed a pair of 80-yard drives, led 14-0 and
had the ball for 15 of the game's first 17 minutes.
"We took nine minutes off the clock and got the score," Tulsa
coach Steve Kragthorpe said of the first drive, which ended with a
1-yard run by Tennial. "Just establishing the tempo. That's
something we talked about -- to come out and establish the tempo of
the game and see if (Memphis) could match it."
From there, it was a matter of Smith engineering the offense,
while the defense stymied Memphis, which had 232 yards of offense,
including only 75 on the ground. Hankins was 24-of-37 for 157
Tennial would score two more times on runs of 2 and 3 yards, and
Dexter Taylor ran for a 4-yard score. Smith's touchdown pass was
for 41 yards to Ryan Bugg.
Doss scored on a 4-yard run, his first rushing touchdown of the
season and only the third on the ground for the Tigers. Hankins
completed a 13-yard pass to Carlos Singleton for the other Memphis
One problem for Memphis, particularly in the first half, was the
inability to hold Tulsa on third down. The Golden Hurricane
converted seven of eight third down plays in the first half,
keeping drives alive and enhancing its time of possession.
Memphis coach Tommy West said stopping Tulsa and forcing Golden
Hurricane punts would have made for a closer game. But not only is
Memphis struggling with implementing a new defensive scheme after
West took over the defensive coordinator duties four games ago, the
troops are thinned by injuries.
"The problem is we don't have enough defense to get off the
field on third down," West said. "We don't have a third down
defense. We are just now to the point that I think we can play our
base defense. Now, we can take it and put a little more with it."