The UConn Huskies suited up under the Friday night lights and for about 25 minutes gave the visiting Memphis Tigers everything they could handle. Unfortunately, things spiraled out of control late in the second quarter and the Tigers ran away with a 70-31 victory.
The 70 points allowed is the highest total in UConn history, besting the 69 allowed to Holy Cross in 1919.
The first half started pretty well for the Huskies actually. It was a back and forth affair, with UConn moving the ball nicely, Memphis responding in kind, and very little defense to be found.
Arkeel Newsome drew first blood with a 64-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening drive. Memphis got a touchdown of its own on the ensuing drive and the shootout was on. Newsome finished with 12 touches (9 carries, 3 receptions) for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The game was tied at 21 after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Bryant Shirreffs to Alec Boom with 7:13 left in the second quarter. That was the high point.
With 1:47 left in the first half, Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson hit Anthony Miller for a 40-yard touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 28-21. Kevin Mensah fumbled on the first play of the Huskies’ next drive and then Memphis stormed ahead with another Ferguson passing touchdown to take a two-score lead, 35-21.
Ferguson had 325 passing yards and five touchdowns through the air IN THE FIRST HALF. He finished with 431 yards and an AAC-record 7 touchdowns while Miller totaled 224 yards on 15 receptions with 4 touchdowns.
The Huskies’ struggles continued in the second half, as they failed to put up another point until late in the fourth quarter while allowing five touchdowns.
In terms of details on “what went wrong” in this one, the list is long and distinguished. Even though the offense puts up good numbers, it still goes quiet for far too long. It collapsed in the second half just as it did down the stretch in the fourth quarter against SMU.
Additionally, two offensive turnovers and a 2-for-11 performance on third-down conversion attempts are not going to win many games. The Huskies had a third turnover on special teams from kick returner Kyle Buss as Memphis finished with 14 points off turnovers.
Of course, the far greater issue is the defense, which once again let opposing offensive players have career games and struggled on third down, as the Tigers converted 11-of-17 third-down attempts. Memphis finished with 711 total yards of offense—notching 7.1 yards per play across 100 plays run.
It’s promising to see the offense do what it does, and no matter what losing like this is better on the eyes than what we’ve seen before. Memphis is one of the better teams in the league so hopefully UConn can show it’s better than its latest scores have been in the next two games against Temple and Tulsa, who should be more beatable opponents.
The Huskies will take on Temple on Saturday, October 14th in Philadelphia at 12 p.m. in a game which will be televised on ESPNews.