Two teams looking to end disappointing campaigns on a high note square off Saturday when Connecticut hosts Memphis. The Huskies lost nine straight to start the season, including their first five under interim coach T.J. Weist, but they've won two in a row including a 28-17 home victory over Rutgers last week. The Tigers had their own two-game winning streak to start November but have dropped two straight and are coming off a 41-21 thumping against Temple.
Connecticut has rallied in the second half of each of its wins the past two weeks, scoring 28 unanswered points in a 28-21 win over Temple and needing two fourth-quarter touchdowns to knock off the Scarlet Knights. The Huskies will celebrate 14 seniors who are playing their final home game, and after a difficult final campaign, Weist said it's important for his team to finish strong for the group. "They've had to go through two losing seasons after perhaps the best season in program history in 2010, and then they had to deal with the coaching change this season and the emotional aspect of that," Weist told reporters. "Now they're fighting back and winning some games, and we want to send them off with some momentum."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: Pick 'em
ABOUT MEMPHIS (3-8, 1-6 AAC): The Tigers have struggled under second-year coach Justin Fuente and need a victory to match last season's win total. Memphis has been ranked in the top 20 in the nation in total defense for most of the season but slipped to 27th after giving up a season highs for total yards (534) and points (41) to Temple. The poor performance came on the heels of one of its best, as Memphis held Louisville more than 100 yards below its season average in a 24-17 loss.
ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2-9, 2-5): Redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Cochran took over the starting job three weeks ago and has rejuvenated the offense as the Huskies have put up 21 or more points in three straight games after doing so only twice in their first eight contests. Cochran led the comeback against Temple and was outstanding against Rutgers, going 25-for-33 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. The defense has played better recently as well with linebacker Yawin Smallwood and cornerback Taylor Mack winning AAC Defensive Player of the Week honors the past two weeks.
1. Connecticut has returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in nine consecutive seasons, a streak that is in danger of ending Saturday.
2. Memphis DE Martin Ifedi has recorded a sack in eight of 11 games this season and needs one sack to tie Tramon Lawless for the school's career record (21) and 1 1/2 to match Andre Arnold's single-season mark (13).
3. Tigers QB Paxton Lynch needs 113 passing yards to become the 10th player in school history to pass for 2,000 yards in a season and 189 to break Ryan Williams' school record for a freshman.
PREDICTION: Connecticut 23, Memphis 20