Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan throws the ball during their game against the SMU Mustangs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday Nov. 6, 2021.

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Memphis, East Carolina jockey for bowl eligibility in AAC matchup

Consider Saturday’s American Athletic Conference contest between East Carolina and Memphis to be the “bowl eligibility bowl.”

With both teams owning 5-4 records, the winner of the afternoon game at Memphis will become bowl eligible with two games still left to play.

So while neither team will likely make an appearance in the conference championship game, there will definitely be a lot to play for.

“They all know it,” East Carolina head coach Mike Houston said. “Trust and believe me, they all know it. Everybody in Greenville knows it. You have to take care of the game that is ahead of you. Memphis is good. We have to go there for an early kickoff, and they just knocked off a ranked SMU team.”

Indeed, Memphis did, as the Tigers earned a 28-25 home upset last week over SMU behind a good defensive performance and the return of starting quarterback Seth Henigan.

The Tigers (5-4, 2-3 AAC) held SMU to a season-low 323 yards and saw Henigan go 34-of-53 passing for 392 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a shoulder injury.

Memphis is looking to become bowl eligible for an eighth straight year.

“Our guys continue to believe, they continue to work, and they continue to do things the right way,” Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield said. “Sometimes, you just want to see it show up on the field. Nobody is happy with our record, and ultimately that starts with me and the things we wanted to get fixed and corrected. We are still a work in progress. One game is not going to define us.”

On the other side, East Carolina (5-4, 3-2) is looking to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014.

The Pirates are coming off a 45-3 rout of Temple at home, led by quarterback Holton Ahlers, who is completing 60.6 percent of his passes this year for 2,179 yards and 14 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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