MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Revenge was the name of the AAC Championship game for the Memphis Tigers against the undefeated UCF Knights.
The Tigers were hoping to avenge last year’s loss to the Knights in double overtime.
Unfortunately, UCF would remain unbeaten and defeated the Tigers 56-41.
The Tigers kicked off with a huge lead. They led by 17 points three times in the game, but they just could not finish the deal.
UCF was able to come back with a big second half, holding Memphis to just three points.
“It really came down to those third down conversions,” said Tigers Coach Mike Norvell. “We weren’t able to establish drives there in the second half, and that was something that obviously hurt us. I mean I thought we did some really good things running the football there early. Had a couple opportunities there in the second half just couldn’t capitalize consistently.”
“Their fan base played a big part in the game,” said Tigers linebacker Curtis Akins. “Once you make simple mistakes like that the crowd is going to help to motivate them.”
“We were still able to throw the ball pretty effectively in the second half,” said quarterback Brady White. “I thought we did a solid job, and then ended up just falling behind and had to play a little bit of catch-up toward the end.”
The Tigers ended up with an 8-5 record, but the season is not over. Bowl time is coming up next for Memphis.
The word from the Commissioner's Office Mike Aresco is that Memphis will go to one of four bowls, and they all involve playing against a Power 5 conference team.
The Tigers will either go to Shreveport, Fort Worth Annapolis, or Birmingham.
We’ll find that out on Sunday.
Back home, the University of Memphis Alumni Association held a watch party for the game at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday.
There were a lot of cheers during the first half of the game. The second half, not so much.
“It was looking good,” said fan Anna Schuler. “Then, you know…”
However, the mood at the watch party still stayed lighthearted. A lot of people said there said that is where they’d want to watch the game if they couldn’t be in Orlando
“I’m heartbroken, but I’m proud of my Tigers,” said fan George Willis. “They played hard.”
This is the second year for the watch party. While the University of Memphis Alumni Association put it on, it’s possible because of cooperation with the City of Memphis.
It’s where Mayor Jim Strickland chose to watch the game, and for many, it was a perfect cap to a very Memphis Day.