No. 18 Memphis aims to stay atop AAC West against USF
No. 18 Memphis (9-1, 5-1 AAC, No. 18 CFP) at South Florida (4-6, 2-4), Saturday at 4 p.m. EST (ESPNU).
Line: Memphis by 14 1/2.
Series record: Memphis leads 5-4.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Memphis, riding a four-game winning streak and locked in a three-way tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference West Division, can earn a berth in the AAC championship game for the third straight year by winning their final two regular season games. South Florida overcame a slow start to climb within striking distance of bowl eligibility, but will have to upset the Tigers and then beat UCF on the road next week to finish with the required six wins.
Memphis quarterback Brady White vs. a USF defense that has forced at least one turnover in each game and ranks third nationally with 22 takeaways overall. White threw for 341 yards and five touchdowns and also had a 14-yard TD run in the Tigers’ 45-27 victory at Houston last week. He has a career-high 28 TD passes this season and his improved play is a big reason Memphis is seventh in pass efficiency (181.6), 18th in passing offense (287.7 yards per game) and 13th in total offense (481 yards per game).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Memphis: White is surrounded by plenty of playmakers on offense. Freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell is the AAC’s second-leading rusher, averaging 116 yards per game. Wide receiver Davonte Coxie has 48 receptions for 765 yards and seven touchdowns.
South Florida: The Bulls have been most dangerous when they’ve been able to ease the burden on red-shirt freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud by running the ball effectively. Running back Jordan Cronkrite has rushed for 687 yards and four TDs. McCloud is 4-4 since becoming the starter, throwing for 1,286 yards and 12 TDs vs. six interceptions.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Tigers are guaranteed of at least .500 record for this decade. Memphis’ last winning decade was the 1970s. … Tigers coach Mike Norvell has 35 career victories for fifth-most wins in program history in 50 games. Norvell is 12-1 at Memphis during November, with the lone to USF in 2016. … This is the fifth time Memphis has started 9-1 or better in program history, second time in three seasons.