No. 18 Memphis wins offensive show with Tulsa, reaches 7-0
TULSA, Okla. — Paxton Lynch wasn’t completely satisfied with how he played Friday night.
If completing 32 of 44 passes for four touchdowns and a career-high 447 yards wasn’t enough to please the Memphis quarterback, then the rest of the American Athletic Conference has its work cut out for it.
Lynch’s career day came in a 66-42 victory for the No. 18 Tigers (7-0, 3-0) over Tulsa. It was the highest-scoring game in major college football this season, according to STATS, and it featured 1,248 yards of total offense from a pair of teams each ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense.
And it was Lynch who showed complete command on a national stage for a second straight week, following Memphis’ dramatic win over No. 24 Mississippi with five total touchdowns — even if he thought he could have played better after topping 300 yards passing for the sixth straight game. The four touchdown passes matched his career high.
"We’re playing pretty well as a whole team, but all around the board it just wasn’t as good as we could have played," Lynch said.
The win was the 14th straight for Memphis, which has gone more than a year since its last loss against Houston. It’s the third-longest winning streak in the country behind No. 1 Ohio State (20 games) and No. 4 TCU (14 games).
In addition to the career bests by Lynch and Garrett, sophomore Doroland Dorceus had a career-high 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Memphis. Jamarius Henderson added 119 yards on the ground and two scores on 14 carries.
But it was Lynch, the junior who guided the Tigers to a 37-24 win over No. 24 Mississippi a week ago, who once again shined the brightest, throwing touchdown passes of 58, 45, 21 and 5 yards in the win. He also had a 3-yard touchdown run to put Memphis up 49-35 in the third quarter.
Dane Evans was 24 of 36 passing for 421 yards and four touchdowns for the Golden Hurricane (3-4, 0-3), while Keyarris Garrett had 14 catches for a career-high 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Tulsa had 544 yards of total offense, but Lynch and the Tigers had 704 yards of their own.
"(Lynch is) a very talented quarterback," Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. "… He’s the trigger guy, he makes them work and is a great operator."
Tigers coach Justin Fuente was concerned earlier in the week how Memphis would respond following last week’s dramatic win over its Southeastern Conference neighbor to the south, even seeking out advice from former Texas coach Mack Brown and TCU coach Gary Patterson.
Any concerns Fuente had were finally put to rest in the second half after Tulsa closed to 42-35 on Evans’ 80-yard touchdown pass to Josh Atkinson.
Following the score, the Tigers outscored the Golden Hurricane 24-7 to close out the game, with Henderson capping the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes remaining.
"Obviously, we’re happy to get the win coming off last week," Fuente said. "Last week was an emotional game, it was a physical game, and this was an incredible challenge."
Memphis led 35-14 late in the first half and appeared to have the game under control. However, Tulsa’s last-second prayer was answered to end the half when Evans’ desperation pass was tipped by two defenders and fell into the arms of Garrett for a 46-yard touchdown.
The Tigers, however, didn’t let up in the second half on their way to the third-highest scoring game in school history, trailing only the 70 points scored against Tampa in 1949 and 69 against Louisville in 1969.