Tigers arrive in Orlando ahead of AAC title matchup with UCF

(Source: Chopper 5)
(Source: Chopper 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Tigers football team left the Bluff City with its eyes set on an AAC title.

The Tigers flew to Florida on Friday to get ready to take on UCF in Orlando. The winner of the game wins the American Athletic Conference and will likely get selected for a major bowl game.

"Our guys are excited about it. We've had a great week of preparation. We're looking forward to the opportunity that's ahead of us and we know it's going to take our best effort to be successful," Memphis head coach Mike Norvell said.

Fans lined the fence Friday as the Tigers boarded their flight headed for Orlando.

Among those in the crowd was outside linebacker Tim Hart's mother.

"He was actually a redshirt last year, but he did get to attend Boca Raton, and he had a ball but this year he will actually be able to make an impact which is great," Hart's mother said.

"It's the first time I've been out to see the football team leave. It was always the basketball team. So, just excited to be here. Looking forward to a big win," lifelong Memphis fan Chris Thomas said.

It'll be a day of championship games in the Hart household.

Hart's mother will end up streaming the Tigers game from the road as she travels with the Lausanne High School football team for their championship game in Cookeville.

She, like other fans, predict a big win with a big score.

"It'll be 40-35 Tigers," Tigers fan Wendell Davis said.

"I think it's probably going to be about a 48, a 41--up in that range. It's going to be a high scoring shootout, and I am really excited about our Tigers going out with another win," Thomas said.

The Tigers touched down in Orlando about 2 p.m., and they were greeted with sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Former Tiger Joseph Doss, a running back out of Melrose, was a backup during the DeAngelo Williams era, and he made sure he had to be here to see the Tigers make history.

"Hey it's awesome, man. Glad I was able to make this trip. This is a lot bigger than I can ever imagine. This is one of those ones where we had some great wins but these guys have continued to just impress us just the entire season. So there's no game bigger than this one," Doss said.

Saturday's game will be a rematch--a chance for redemption for the Tigers as they replay the only team they lost to this season during a game back in September.

WMC Action News 5 will have coverage of the team's preparations for the game and (hopefully) the rocking celebration after the game.

If you want to experience the Memphis Tigers play for an AAC title like a true Tigers fan, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is opening up just for you.

Mayor Jim Strickland and the U of M Alumni Association will host a watch party at the stadium Saturday.

You can watch the game on the big screen--complete with food trucks, kids games, and the home game atmosphere.

"The growth of Tiger football, having the impacts on the city and our community that the team is creating--a program that is winning at historic highs," Liberty Bowl General Manager Thomas Carrier said.

Gates for the Liberty Bowl watch party open at 10 a.m. Saturday. But beware of traffic from the St. Jude Marathon and other events in the city.

Parking and the party are free and open to the public, and just like all stadium events, the clear bag policy will be in place.

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