No. 15 SMU (8-0, 4-0 AAC) at No. 24 Memphis (7-1, 3-1), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT (ABC).
Line: Memphis by 6.
Series record: Memphis 8-3.
What’s at stake?
A New Year’s Six game remains a possibility for the winner, while SMU is chasing even more than that with its best season since 1982. Memphis has a chance at a statement win in arguably the biggest football game yet for a school best known for basketball. This is the first time in Tigers’ history that both the football and men’s basketball teams have been ranked in the same week.
Memphis’ defense against SMU’s offense. The Tigers rank 42nd nationally allowing just 23 points a game and are No. 23 against the pass giving up 186.3 yards per game. SMU is averaging 43 points a game and has scored at least 40 six times this season. The Mustangs also have reached 500 yards total offense four times this season.
Players to watch
SMU: QB Shane Buechele. He has thrown for 2,325 yards and is averaging 290.6 yards passing per game with 20 TD passes.
Memphis: RB Kenneth Gainwell. The redshirt freshman has topped 100 yards rushing in six straight games, the third-longest streak in Memphis history. He ran for 149 yards with a career-high three TDs last week, and he is first nationally with five plays of 50 yards or longer from scrimmage. Gainwell ranks second nationally with 1,419 all-purpose yards.
Facts & figures
Memphis has won five straight in series. … SMU one of nine undefeated teams nationally. … SMU 8-0 for first time since winning first 10 in 1982. Mustangs are 4-0 in conference play for first time since 1986. … SMU is 4-0 on road this season and has won 6 of last 7 away from Dallas. … SMU has scored 40 or more points in six games, a program record. … SMU RB Xavier Jones has had six 100-yard rushing games and ranks fourth in FBS with 14 TDs rushing. … Memphis has 52 wins since 2014, 12th-most in FBS and most in AAC in that span. … Memphis TE Joey Magnifico second among all tight ends averaging 18.94 yards per catch. … Memphis ranks first nationally with 22 plays of 40 yards or longer and second in country with 13 plays over 50 yards.
A big game for the city of Memphis
The game also received a lot of attention after ESPN announced College GameDay would be broadcast live from Beale Street on Saturday. Since late Wednesday evening crews have been working around the clock to set up two stages for the production and for Sports Center, which will film on the set before the game.
The madness will really take off on Saturday morning, as parking lots will open at 5 a.m., and some Beale Street bars will start serving alcohol as early as 7 a.m.
The College GameDay show will hit the air at 8 a.m. Central time, providing a once-in-a-lifetime showcase for Memphians and Tiger fans.
The event has generated so much hype that Liberty Bowl Stadium officially sold out of its 58,325 tickets early Friday morning.