Memphis will see if receiver Calvin Austin III can provide an encore against the visiting and fellow undefeated UT-San Antonio in a nonconference game on Saturday.
Austin led the charge against the Mississippi State last week by scoring three second-half touchdowns in a span of 15:30 to help the Tigers (3-0) overcome a 17-7 halftime deficit to pull out a 31-29 win.
Memphis, a member of the American Athletic Conference, won despite allowing 419 yards and three touchdowns passing by quarterback Will Rogers. But the defense came up big when needed, stopping Rogers’ two-point conversion run with 1:32 left to secure the win.
Austin caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Seth Henigan with 6:20 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-14 before his 25-yard scoring reception with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter gave the Tigers a 21-17 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The next time he touched the ball, a little more than two minutes later, he returned a punt 94 yards for a 28-17 lead.
Memphis is seeking its second 4-0 start in the past three seasons.
The Tigers will rely heavily on their three-headed monster of Henigan (841 yards passing, eight TDs, one interception), running back Brandon Thomas, who is averaging more than eight yards per carry, having rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns on 50 attempts, and Austin, who has 21 catches for 391 yards and six scores.
“Memphis is probably the first team that we’ll play that has more team speed than we do,” Roadrunners coach Jeff Traylor told reporters. “They’ve won 17 games at home in a row and just beat an SEC team. We know no one is going to pick us being on the road, on ESPN and a nationally televised game with two 3-0 teams. It sounds like fun to me.”
The Roadrunners (3-0), who are seeking their first 4-0 start since 2012, have outscored the opposition 118-43 after knocking off visiting Middle Tennessee 27-13 in both teams’ Conference USA opener last Saturday. Frank Harris went 24-of-39 passing for 264 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for UTSA.
“We understand the type of game this is: You have two undefeated teams facing off,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield told reporters. “We’ve got to find a way to get better this week because they’re going to give us everything we want and more.”
Harris has thrown for 662 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions this season, while Sincere McCormick has rushed for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Zakhari Franklin has 22 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
The Roadrunners had five sacks and nine tackles during a dominating performance in which they limited Middle Tennessee State (1-2) to eight yards rushing, 11 first downs and 199 total yards of offense.
–Field Level Media