Tigers down to last chance at being bowl eligible - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tigers down to last chance at being bowl eligible

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis has one more chance at a bowl game.

The Tulane Green Wave (1-6, 2-9 Conference USA) would appear to provide the perfect opponent Saturday for the Tigers' slim hopes. Young team, struggling offensively, suffering through injuries to key players, going through a rebuilding process. But Memphis blew a similar chance last week against Central Florida.

The Tigers (5-6, 3-4) fell behind 14-0 and squandered a chance to become bowl-eligible with a 28-21 loss.

"We usually don't make the errors at the end of the season," Memphis coach Tommy West said. "I'm just really disappointed to spot a team 14 points. I knew from that point, it would be hard."

For the Green Wave, they are trying to finish out the season and look to the future. Tulane started 2-2, but has lost its last seven, the slide coinciding with the loss of junior wide receiver Jeremy Williams to season-ending knee surgery. He was averaging 16.2 yards a catch and had five touchdown receptions before he was injured in the fifth game.

Running back Andre Anderson, a candidate for the 2008 Doak Walker Award, suffered a season-ending right shoulder injury, and Tulane has struggled offensively since.

"You lose two key players like that, and that's a lot of your offense," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said.

Memphis also has dealt with injuries, at one point having third-string quarterback Brett Toney as the only true signal-caller.

Last week, starter Arkelon Hall returned after breaking his right thumb Oct. 18 at East Carolina, but his play was spotty. He was the punter on a blocked kick, he and Charlie Jones missed connections on the handoff that led to a fumble return and his passes floated or were off target because he had trouble gripping the ball with the healing thumb.

"He threw some good balls, and some that were really poor," West said.

The Tigers also got back running back Curtis Steele last week. Steele had been averaging 100 yards a game before a hamstring injury sidelined him for several weeks. He had only 38 yards, but scored a touchdown against UCF.

Memphis still boasts a potent group of receivers led by 6-foot-8 Carlos Singleton and a pair of 6-foot-4 wideouts in Maurice Jones and Duke Calhoun. The defense continues to improve and held Central Florida to 42 yards of offense in the second half.

Tulane boasts the conference's best pass defense, allowing 177 yards a game, but ranks next-to-last against the run. Last week, Tulsa had 489 yards rushing in defeating the Green Wave 56-7.

"We need to keep it in perspective," Toledo said. "Nobody enjoys what happened. I am as disappointed and humiliated and embarrassed as anybody around. But, like I said, it is what it is. We are in a rebuilding process."

Kevin Moore leads the offense, averaging 181.5 yards passing per game.

And despite facing Memphis when the Tigers are trying to get to the postseason and are playing at home on Senior Day, Toledo hopes to provide a challenge.

"We're going to round em up, head to Memphis, and we're going to go and try and win a football game," the Tulane coach said. "And that's basically all I can say."                  

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)      

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