Memphis will look to build on a four-game winning streak when it hosts stumbling Houston on Friday in an American Athletic Conference matchup.
With a win Friday, the Tigers (4-1, 2-0 AAC) can remain at the top of the conference standings and all but doom Houston’s chances for a repeat appearance in the league championship game.
Memphis heads into Friday’s game on the heels of a 24-3 win at home over Temple. The Tigers shrugged off a ragged first half in which they were held scoreless for the first time since 2017 and rolled to the victory.
“We’re doing enough to win games. It doesn’t mean that we’re even close to where we need to be,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said Sunday. “Everything that we’re doing has to get fixed and improved upon quickly because we know we can’t go out there and play like we did (against Temple).”
The Cougars head to Memphis on the heels of a 27-24 overtime loss at home to Tulane on Sept. 30. Houston has played three overtime games this season, a program record, and has dropped two of them.
Houston (2-3, 0-1 AAC) scored 14 straight points in the fourth quarter before Tulane produced a tying TD with 39 seconds left in regulation. The Cougars opted to take the ball first in overtime and kicked a field goal, but Tulane had the final say via a game-winning touchdown pass on its possession.
Prior to the season, Houston was picked to win the AAC in a media poll, edging Cincinnati. Linebacker Donavan Mutin was candid when asked about the Cougars’ struggle to close out games and what needs to be done to turn around the situation.
“(Our opponents) make more plays to win than we do,” Mutin said. “From the head of the snake to the tail of the snake, we need alignment. It needs to be coherent. The message needs to be clear. We’re going to have a chance to do that or not and our season will be the ramifications of whatever we do.”
Quarterback Clayton Tune threw for 208 yards and two scores in the loss, in which he became just the fourth player in Houston history to amass 10,000 career total yards.
Houston has won 16 of its 30 games against the Tigers in the all-time series. The teams have split the 16 contests played in Memphis.