The Memphis Tigers picked up their first win of the season on Saturday night, taking their conference opener over the Rice Owls, 14-10. The Tigers won just two games last season, and it was another rough first month to open the 2012 campaign. But Rice was nearly as shaky through September, and Memphis rode two third-quarter touchdowns to pick up the first win with Justin Fuente at the helm.
The game was a defensive struggle affected by horrible weather in the Memphis area, even causing the officials to put the game in a delay. The Memphis offense was shut out in the first half, but after the delay, they came out in the third and were able to move the ball on Rice. Their second possession of the half ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Karam to Keiwone Malone. The Tigers took advantage of quality field position to end the shutout, with the drive taking less than three minutes and covering 44 yards in seven plays.
Memphis made it two in a row on their next possession, scoring the go-ahead and game-winning touchdown on an Eric Mathews pass to Alan Cross. The touchdown ended an eight-play, 64-yard drive that attacked the Owls on the ground. The Tigers rushed the ball on six of seven plays before turning to Matthews for the game-winner through the air. It was the first completed pass in Mathews' career, and it came at the most crucial time for Fuente.
The Tigers defense would take it from there to close out the win over the final quarter. Memphis gave up just one Rice touchdown, which came off a turnover on the Tigers' first drive of the game. It was an ugly win, but the Tigers and Fuente will take it.
But Did They Cover? Rice was upset and did not cover the 4.5-point spread
For More On This Game: For more on Tigers football, you should probably start reading Big East Coast Bias.
Next Week's Schedule: Memphis will go for its second win of the season next week at East Carolina, while Rice will host Texas-San Antonio.