Memphis beats USF, keeps alive CFP Bowl hopes

Ken Cross

November 24, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

TAMPA — The No. 17 Memphis Tigers piled up 560 yards of total offense and ambushed the USF Bulls with 21 second-quarter points in a 49-10 rout of the struggling Bulls in Tampa on Saturday.

The Tigers secured their fourth 10-win season in the history of the program and now have the inside track to a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Once the Tigers got their offense in gear and got some rhythm and precision, there was nothing USF could do defensively to thwart a team with as many offensive weapons as possibly any team in the nation.

Memphis used a stellar one-two punch of Kenneth Gainwell and Patrick Taylor at running back. Taylor scored three touchdowns, while Gainwell led the rushing attack with 128 yards on 14 carries.

Taylor scored on touchdown runs of three, five and 10 yards. His five-yard scoring run began the watershed second quarter as he gave the Tigers the lead. They took a 28-10 margin into the locker room at halftime.

Gainwell went over 100 yards for the seventh time this season as the Tigers rushed for 325 on the day.

In the passing game, quarterback Brady White was stellar as he took what the Bulls gave him. He was like the surgeon with a scalpel as he threw under the Bulls’ defense and completed passes to seven different receivers.

For the game, White completed 18 of 28 passes for 222 yards and two scores.

He hit Kedarian Jones on a 50-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Jones was lined up in the slot, went downfield and made the catch as he pivoted like a power forward on the basketball court and shed the defender to take the ball into the end zone for a 21-10 Tigers lead.

White’s most impressive effort came right before halftime when he drove the Tigers 73 yards in 10 plays in 1:29 seconds. He hit Damonte Coxie on a 20-yard pass play with five seconds remaining in the half which seemingly took the will out of the Bulls.

For USF, it was another tough afternoon where the Bulls could get nothing going on offense.  They scored on their first drive of the game on a 1-yard run by Dave Small, who had one previous carry during the season.

“As a coaching staff, we have to get it right on offense,” said coach Charlie Strong, “When one guys pressures you, we should be able to hold our own and go block him.”

The one player Strong alluded to was Memphis linebacker Dwayne Boyles who had 10 tackles, including two for loss.  Strong said that Boyles continually got pressure up the middle on quarterback Jordan McCloud, who passed for only 45 yards on a 5-of-14 effort.

Strong also threw Jah’quez Evans and Kirk Rygol behind center as a change-up, but that was to no avail as the two of them combined for one completion.

“We just never got back or were able to protect the quarterback enough to make the throw down field,” said Strong. “We had guys open; we just couldn’t get the ball to them.”

Memphis finishes against Cincinnati at home on Friday where it can win home field advantage in the AAC Championship Game on Dec. 7. The Bulls aren’t bowl eligible for the first time since 2014 and will close out the season at UCF on Friday as well.