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Tigers return to action to host Kansas

Tigers University of Memphis Football field

MEMPHIS, Tenn-Well, it’s not the way that coaches, players and Tigers fans would have laid out the University of Memphis 2016 football schedule, but it is what it is – and now it’s in the rearview mirror.

The Tigers opened their 2016 campaign Sept. 3 with a 35-17 victory in Mike Norvell’s collegiate head coaching debut.

Then, the bye week came.

Now, it’s time for action again.

Memphis returns to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for an 11 a.m. (CT) contest against Kansas, and ESPNU is televising the match-up. From the first day of preseason drills, the Tigers have gone through more than 30 practices and played only one game. Needless to say, Memphis players and coaches – and, yes, even fans – are anxious to see GameDay No. 2 of 2016 arrive.

“Even though they made us wait for it, Game No. 2 is on the horizon,” Norvell said. “We had a great off-week. I’m really pleased with the mentality of our players and the preparation for this next step. They were very mature in their focus.

“Just like what we tell the players, we can only control what we can control. We have no say in when our bye week shows up, so we have to maximize it whether it was late in the year or early like it occurred.”

While Memphis had an off-week to make improvements, Big 12 Conference foe Kansas hosted its second-straight home game and dropped a 37-21 decision to Ohio University Sept. 10. The Jayhawks defeated Rhode Island 55-6 in their Sept. 3 opener.

“This week, we have a Power 5 conference opponent coming to town,” said Norvell. “Kansas is a much-improved football team. They are going into the second year with their coaching staff. In their first game, they had a great victory and scored a lot of points.

“Last week, they had a little setback. They turned the ball over and had a couple of self-inflicted mistakes and came up on the short end. We know they are coming to our place with a great intensity, and we know we have a tremendous challenge. We are excited about getting back on the field at the Liberty Bowl.”

One change for Saturday’s game is the “throwback” look, as the Tigers celebrate the University’s era when it was known as Memphis State (1957-93). The team is sporting leaping Tiger MSU logo decals on its helmets, and the first 10,000 fans that enter the Liberty Bowl Saturday are receiving free Memphis State caps courtesy of First Tennessee.