MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Saturday's AutoZone Liberty Bowl is another opportunity for the Memphis Tigers football team to prove it belongs in the same conversation as teams from Power 5 conferences.
The American Athletic Conference really pushed the "Power 6" narrative this season, trying to distance the AAC from other group of 5 leagues.
The Tigers helped that cause earlier this season by beating a ranked UCLA team from the Pac-12. Now, they have another shot against the Big 12's Iowa State, a team with two wins over top-5 ranked opponents this season.
"It means a lot," Memphis QB Riley Ferguson said. "That's something we've been pushing all year. Even when I was at media day a couple months ago, if you look at this conference, there's teams that can go out and beat any team in the country no matter what conference they're in. I think that's something we're overlooked in a way, but we just have to go out and play our game and show everybody what the American Conference can actually do.
While the Tigers try to prove themselves against a Big 12 opponent, for the Iowa State Cyclones, it doesn't matter. Iowa State comes to its first bowl game since 2012, and as far as the Cyclones are concerned, it's their biggest game ever.
"The history of this bowl game, obviously the teams that have had success coming here, and being a part of this," Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. "The players and coaches, it's fantastic."
"This is a very good place for us to be," Cyclones QB Kyle Kempt said. "We couldn't ask for a more competitive game to be a part of too. Playing a ranked team at their place, it's a great opportunity for us."
You can see it all play out on the field Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the 59th AutoZone Liberty Bowl.