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Better Know a 2017 Opponent: Memphis

Featuring way less Derrick Rose hate than you’d think!

NCAA Football: Boca Raton Bowl-Memphis vs Western Kentucky Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

You know, sometimes you schedule games against opponents far into the future, assuming they will be good or bad. Take for example, the Rutgers series UCLA will play in a few years. At the time it was scheduled, Rutgers was a decent program! Now? Tire fire!

Memphis is essentially the opposite.

Justin Fuente turned Memphis from a dump into a winning program after UCLA signed the home and home contract, because sometimes life isn’t fair. And now, in what is potentially a make-or-break season for Jim Mora, it comes time to pay the piper.

Should be fun!

LAST YEAR

Hey, did you know Memphis finished with a better record than UCLA did last year? I bet you could have at least assumed it!

Memphis performed better than people thought they would after losing Fuente, beating the pants off of Kansas (but to be fair, that’s not that hard RIGHT TEXAS?), playing relatively close games at Ole Miss and Navy, and finishing the regular season with an upset of Houston.

And hey, Memphis also played in a bowl game! They got cakewalked by Western Kentucky, but hey, that’s still not a bad outcome. You know what actually is a bad outcome? 4-8.

Seriously, do you think Jim Mora sends Brian Kelly and Mark Helfrich thank you notes for taking the national heat off of him? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

THE FANS

I don’t know much about Memphis fans, but I have heard good things about their BBQ, so I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be a pretty good road trip. Of course, the last time a UCLA team made the trip to Memphis, uhhhhhhh

yeah, not great

....

We should cancel all future games played in the Memphis region, just to be safe.

THE COACHES

Hey, back to names that are familiar to UCLA fans! You all remember Mike Norvell, right? Norvell was the OC for Todd Graham, and has had a ton of success at every stop he’s made. The last time UCLA faced a Mike Norvell offense, Arizona State ate UCLA’s lunch, so that should be fun!

Memphis’s DC, Chris Ball, also comes from the Todd Graham tree, so UCLA should really understand that they’ll see a ton of blitzes and speed on defense. So, much like every other time UCLA plays Arizona State, I expect the Bruins won’t have any idea what Memphis will attempt to do, to hilarious (read: disastrous) results.

THE PLAYERS

Before we even get into this part, are we sure all the Memphis players are eligible this time?

Memphis has a quarterback named Riley Ferguson who is very good, and is in a system designed to let him be even better. Last year, he only had one real bad game last year, a 3 interception outing on the road against Ole Miss. It’s not that he was necessarily bad in that game (he still ended up throwing for 343 yards) but 3 turnovers were less than ideal. Still, Ferguson is an exceptional quarterback who should test the UCLA secondary early and often.

There, I hope you all enjoyed that little bit of analysis, and I promise never to do that again.

There isn’t a single standout defensive player for Memphis, and their only strong unit from last season (the secondary) lost 5 of their top 7 players. Theoretically, UCLA should find some success offensively.

Of course, theoretical also describes the UCLA offensive line at this moment in time.

FEARLESS PREDICTION

Darren Collison runs on the field at halftime and demands the NCAA give UCLA the win in 2008 because DERRICK ROSE WAS INELIGIBLE HOW DID YOU IDIOTS MISS THAT ONE?!?

UCLA ends up trying to run the ball about 30 times for 60 yards or something, and still manages to come away with a win they absolutely didn’t deserve.

Jim Mora calls Steve Alford after the game and brags about winning a game in Memphis. It’s the first time Mora has been able to burn Alford all year, and he savors the moment.