5 Thoughts Miami Beach: Memphis 55, BYU 48 2OT

    Dec. 22 Miami Beach Bowl Memphis 55, BYU 48 2OT And You Care Because … In the second overtime, Memphis took the lead on a Paxton Lynch 11-yard touchdown

    December 22, 2014

    Dec. 22 Miami Beach Bowl
    Memphis 55, BYU 48 2OT
    And You Care Because … In the second overtime, Memphis took the lead on a Paxton Lynch 11-yard touchdown pass to Roderick Proctor, and BYU couldn’t answer as Christian Stewart’s pass was picked off by DaShaughn Terry on the second play of the Cougars’ attempt. Lynch forced overtime on a five-yard touchdown pass to Keiwone Malone on fourth down with 45 seconds to play in regulation, and after BYU’s Trevor Samson hit a 45-yard kick in the first overtime, MU’s Jake Elliott answered with a bomb of a 54-yard field goal to force the second OT. It was a wild back-and-forth shootout all game long with Stewart throwing three touchdown passes and Lynch four, but the two quarterbacks also made a slew of big mistakes with the teams combining for nine turnovers including a 19-yard pick six from BYU’s Zach Stout for a seven-point lead with just under eight minutes to play. Good field position led to the late Memphis touchdown to force overtime. 
    What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 24-of-46 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions, and ran 13 times for 38 yards and three scores 
    – BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 23-of-48 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns with three picks
    – Fourth down conversions: Memphis 3-of-3 – BYU 2-of-2 
    – Turnovers: Memphis 5 – BYU 4 
    Game Rating: 

    By Pete Fiutak
    1. Yeah, THAT’S what you want out of an early bowl game. After all the schlock and all of the boredom of an awful first Saturday of bowl games, the Miami Beach Bowl gave the world exactly what it wanted and needed on a Monday afternoon. Forget the empty seats and blow off the inaugural factor of yet another bowl game, this was as clutch and as fun as it gets with big plays on both sides, late heroics, a bomb of a field goal from Jake Elliott to keep Memphis alive, a huge day from Christian Stewart and the BYU offense, and in the end, a massive victory for the American Athletic Conference. Memphis had a good, strong season, and now this seals it. Going 10-3 with a bowl win over a solid, mature BYU team makes the year for the Tigers and helps the conference, but this was fun no matter what. Finally, we got a good bowl game. We needed it. 

    By Rich Cirminiello 
    2. Huge win for Memphis. Pretty poignant for any program currently in rebuilding mode as well. 

    By beating BYU in an overtime thriller, the Tigers furthered their role as one of this season’s symbols of what’s possible. Memphis was on life support as recently as two years ago, mired in its fifth of six straight losing seasons. But deft coaching trumps all, especially at the college level. And Justin Fuente and his staff have done a remarkable job in 2014, leading the Tigers to a 10-win season. That’s 10 wins from a team that hadn’t even finished above .500 since 2007. 

    Memphis has a promising future, particularly since Fuente has yet to be scooped up by a larger program. On a macro level, though, the Tigers are going to be a rallying cry for everyone from Chad Morris at SMU to Neal Brown at Troy. Because if Memphis is defeating nationally recognized BYU just three years removed from three straight 10-loss seasons, anything is possible with the right blueprint and the right amount of patience. For every Group of Five program that watched today’s Miami Beach Bowl, the Tigers represent a tangible reason to get up a little earlier and work a little harder this offseason. 

    By Pete Fiutak
    3. It’s impossible, and not really fair, to judge a team by its bowl game, but for BYU after a rocky season, this has to sting. The school gets to keep all of its money as an independent, but with Utah blowing away Colorado State in the Las Vegas, and Utah State showing up big in a 21-6 New Mexico win over UTEP, losing like BYU did is going to sour a resilient year. After streaking to start with a 4-0 run, and with the 0-4 middle and a 4-0 finish, it seemed like a win in the bowl would’ve been a nice consolation prize to bigger dreams that might have been possible had Taysom Hill stayed healthy. But the program knew it was going to the Miami Beach Bowl right after the one loss to Utah State – and after getting bowl eligible – and this was it. This was the reward. Instead, with no conference title to play for and with the bowl tie-in already set, a heartbreaking loss is going to hurt. Fine, so the bowl was merely a glorified exhibition, but nine wins would’ve been nice. 

    4. What’s next for BYU 
    When is Taysom Hill going to be back and healthy? Christian Stewart is a senior, but McCoy Hill is a 6-6, 230-pound passer who could make the BYU offense shine if Hill isn’t back to normal. With Jamaal Williams out, Algernon Brown showed in the bowl that he could handle the workload, and he might be featured even more along with Mitchell Juergens. Missions always make things interesting in terms of the depth chart, but four starters are projected to be back up front, while three of the top four targets for the passing game return. 

    BYU always experiences big turnover and ends up fine on defense, but the loss of FS Skye PoVey and linebacker Zac Stout will be felt. Fortunately, the entire front three is back along with three starters in a good secondary. Kicker Trevor Samson and punter Scott Arellano are gone. 

    5. What’s next for Memphis 
    With QB Paxton Lynch returning along with almost all of his top targets, the Tiger passing game should be terrific from the start. Four starters are back to a good O line that only loses right tackle Al Bond, and while leading rusher Brandon Hayes is done, Jarvis Cooper and Sam Craft should be able to pick up the slack. Lynch can run a little bit, too. 

    The outstanding defense takes a massive hit with the top five tacklers gone including linebackers Tank Jakes and Charles Harris. Ends Ernest Suttles and Jackson Dillon are gone from the outside, but tackles Martin Ifredi and Terry Redden will be missed. Free safety Reggis Ball is the only returning starter to the secondary that has some major reworking to do. Kicker Jake Elliott and punter Spencer Smith are both back. 


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