Schedule and Odds
After three straight seasons with less than three wins, Justin Fuente made major strides with the Tigers in 2012 getting them to four wins, winning their last three of the year. Sure, those three wins were against the worst teams in Conference-USA, but at least they were wins. In a tougher conference, more improvement will be needed if Memphis wants to improve their record.
The Tigers averaged more than 40 points per game in their final three, but they only averaged 24.4 for the season. Against better competition, their offense couldn't really hold their own. Supposedly the quarterback position isn't locked up even though last year's starter Jacob Karam is returning. Memphis didn't really pass much for Karam to make a dent, but he did make it through the season with a 14-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio. Brandon Hayes and Jai Steib are a solid duo at running back with both of them carrying the ball 100-plus times last year. Hayes averaged 1.3 more yards per carry and should lead the way. The receiving core returns Keiwone Malone (44 receptions) and Clemson transfer Joe Craig. It's likely this offense will find trouble moving the ball against the upper half of the conference.
While the offense is outmatched, the defense should be able to stick with most offenses in the AAC, excluding that road game at Louisville. The unit returns seven starters including guys that could be headed to the NFL in tackle Terry Redden and safety Lonnie Ballentine. With solid players at every level, they should at least be able to keep the Tigers close enough in multiple games.
2013 Memphis College Football Schedule
Sept. 7 vs. Duke
Sept. 14 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 21 vs. Arkansas State
Oct. 5 vs. UCF
Oct. 12 at Houston
Oct. 19 vs. SMU
Oct. 30 vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 9 vs. Tennessee-Martin
Nov. 16 at South Florida
Nov. 23 at Louisville
Nov. 30 vs. Temple
Dec. 7 at Connecticut
Memphis' out-of-conference schedule is the exact same as last year which isn't exactly a good thing as they didn't win any of them. Duke and Arkansas State will be tough tasks at home to start the year, but the defense should be able to keep them close. A Nov. 9 meeting with Tennessee-Martin needs to be a win after the Skyhawks beat Memphis in the season opener last year.
Matching 2012's record should be their goal playing in a better conference. That means there are a few games on their schedule that need to be wins. Home games against SMU and Temple stand out, as does the road game at South Florida. If they can get two of those, four wins should be attainable. Even against lesser competition, Memphis will be on the road at Houston and Connecticut with both being tough games.
The offense will have to make major improvements if the Tigers want a chance at more than four wins. If they don't improve, there just won't be enough points for Memphis to get wins in this conference, even with a stout defense.