Otis Sanford: Win or lose, Tigers have already won the hearts of Memphians

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Mike Norvell of the Memphis Tigers, right, is hugged by his assistants after a comeback win overe the Houston Cougars 42-38 on October 19, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It has been quite a while since Memphis college football fans have had something really exciting to talk about this late in the season.

But 2017 has truly been a magical year for the University of Memphis Tigers who will play Central Florida for the American Athletic Conference championship this Saturday. It will be the first appearance ever for the Tigers in the conference title game.

While the outcome of the nationally-televised match up might not alter the long-term fortunes of Memphis, it will do what sports often seems to do around here – bring the entire city together for one common purpose.

The high-powered Tigers finished the regular season with a 10 and 1 record. That one loss was to Central Florida.

With Saturday’s title game being played in Orlando rather than Memphis, the Tigers have their work cut out for them, but  this team has captured the attention and imagination of the city – through hard work, determination and a tremendous amount of talent.

A victory still will not put the Tigers in contention for a national championship. Instead they would likely play in the Peach Bowl on New Year`s Day. But at the end of the day that’s beside the point. Win or lose, this team has already won the hearts of Memphians.