I Love Memphis Guide To Memphis Tigers Football 2017
Ed. Note: Football season will be here in just a few days, and contributor Austin Crowder has every bit of information on how to enjoy the Memphis Tigers this year. All photos provided by the University of Memphis. All editor’s notes and inserted gifs are my fault since, as a U of M alum, I am legally required to make all-in-good-fun disparaging remarks about Ole Miss.
The most anticipated University of Memphis Tigers football season yet begins Thursday, August 31st with a home game at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 season and why you should support our home team in what is likely to be a record setting year.
Where We’ve Been
The Memphis Tigers football program has produced ten players currently active in the NFL. The team has seen players drafted into the NFL the past four years straight, including first rounder Paxton Lynch in 2016.
In 2015 the Tigers started the year 8-0, beating Ole Miss (Ed. Note: And what a glorious day it was!) and made it all the way to #18 in the Associated Press’ top 25.
In 2016 Ole Miss took advantage of transition season to avenge their loss. (Ed. Note: boo!) But with a nationally-ranked top 15 defense, new coach Mike Norvell, and junior quarterback Riley Ferguson, the program continued to gain credibility. Now, there’s legitimate hope for a 2017 season that will end with a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Where We’re Headed
Memphis is currently slated by a preseason media poll to win the American Athletic Conference West Division this 2017 season.
Yes, that is correct. If you have been sleeping on Memphis Tigers Football for a few years you have some catching up to do. Respected college football pundits believe this could be Memphis’ year to compete in one of the six coveted New Year’s Day bowl games.
This is not a drill! Memphis football is expected to continue making an increasingly major splash as a formidable competitor in college football.
That top 15 offense from last year brings back 9 of its 11 members including quarterback Riley Ferguson, who will lead the team as a senior. The defense is bolstered by some top level recruits who chose Memphis over invitations from teams in the Power 5 conferences (the most competitive in the nation).
You can buy all forms of tickets including single game, 3-pack, group, or season tickets as well as parking passes at www.GoTigersGo.com/FootballTickets. If you buy ahead, instead of day-of-game, you’ll save a little cash.
Individual game tickets range in price from $20 – $65. Season tickets in the Funzone are only $130 (less if you are a Tiger Scholarship Fund member). A parking pass for the season is $70. The East Side Skyboxes are unfortunately already sold out because everyone is so amped for this season.
Important! There is a new policy only allowing bags into the stadium that are clear or small clutches. All the details can be found here.
Memphis Tigers Tailgating
Start perfecting your rotel dip (or just pick up some Pancho’s), clipping your ground beef coupons, and pre-packing your cooler with beer now. It’s time to get ready, folks, because the great American tradition of tailgating before games is alive and well in Memphis. Game day is just around the corner.
You’ll want to be early to Tiger Lane on game day to say hi to Tom III, a live Bengal tiger who will be situated in front of the Stadium. This tradition dates back 40 years.
Plus, you definitely can’t miss the Tiger Walk that starts two hours before kick off. It’ll go something like this:
- Gather your kids up from the bounce houses.
- Pause all corn hole games.
- Pull your pal out from under his Tiger blue tailgating tent (where he’s been glued to the pre-game show on the truck-mounted TV, chicken wing in one hand and Ghost River in the other).
- Line up next to the band and cheerleaders to form a path welcoming the players and coaches into the stadium.
- Sing along as the Mighty Sound of the South blasts the fight song, just be sure to learn the words first.
Reserve your tailgating spot by contacting the Tiger Scholarship Fund at (901) 678-1720. If you’d like to bring together your colleagues reserve a tailgating package by contacting the IMG Learfield staff at (901) 678-1748.
You won’t regret it.
The Players To Watch
Head coach Mike Norvell heads into his second year at the University of Memphis with the momentum of a transition year that exceeded expectations followed by a productive off-season of recruitment. Here are just a few of his Memphis Tiger players to follow closely and root for.
Anthony Miller (#3) is a senior wide receiver. Anthony, a local Memphian, attended CBHS. Anthony was a walk-on his freshman year and was redshirted for two seasons. Then, as a Junior, he gained national attention by setting four school records with 95 receptions, 1,434 receiving yards, 14 TD catches, and 8 100-yard receiving games. Anthony is the Tiger’s “captain clutch.” Look for him continue to rapidly improve and likely make a splash in the NFL draft.
Jackson Dillon (#34) is a senior linebacker and also Memphis’ biggest X-factor. Dillon was on his way to becoming an All-American when he injured himself three consecutive times, limiting his play to just one game last season. Coach Norvell has described Jackson’s impassioned come back as possibly his most enjoyable experience from last spring.
Key Games To Look Out For
UCLA – This game is a perfect storm. It’s at the Liberty Bowl on the Saturday of Cooper Young Festival at 11 am, September 16th. Two quarterbacks with pre-season attention will face off in a game that’s nationally televised on ABC. In 2014, our last matchup, we lost by one 4th quarter touchdown to a UCLA team that was nationally ranked. The atmosphere will be electric as we try to right that on the home field. This game is gonna be lit.
Navy – On Saturday, Oct. 14th the Tigers will host the defending champions of the conference that Memphis has been slated to win this season, the AAC West. The Navy team has had our number and defeated us the last two seasons. This year it is a home game and a must win – see you there!
Houston – This away game is a must watch. Houston is quickly becoming our biggest rival in the conference. The past three matchups: 2014 Houston wins 28-24, 2015 Houston wins 35-34, 2016 Memphis wins 48-44. Brace yourself for nailbiter folks.
Charlie Long, who easily qualifies as a Memphis Tigers super-fan, told me that when it comes to Tiger football “expectations and excitement have never been higher.” He’s right. For my steadfast fans, what a time to be alive. For fans of SEC colleges (whose names shall not be uttered here) that are a bit sick of the long drives and overpriced tickets… this right here is the time to jump in on the action happening at the Liberty Bowl.
At the Liberty Bowl there is truly no bad seat, the costs are relatively low, you’re walking distance from Cooper-Young for pre- and post-gaming, it’s a beautiful space full of Memphis love, and you simply just can’t beat the taste of those Pronto Pups.
Get pumped, it’s Tiger football season.
About The Author
Austin was raised in the Los Angeles area but found his home (and his Memphian wife) here in Memphis, Tennessee. He teaches high school government and economics in South Memphis. He contributes to the Commercial Appeal, SB Nation, and I Love Memphis. But everyone in the rec basketball league knows his true passion and calling is to grow a few more inches to become an NBA player for the Memphis Grizzlies. Follow him on Twitter @acrowder73.