April 16, 2024

Memphis Tigers Set Sights on AutoZone Liberty Bowl: A Milestone in the Making Amidst Potential Stadium Ownership Change

- Photo Credits - Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

 Memphis Tigers Set Sights on AutoZone Liberty Bowl: A Milestone in the Making Amidst Potential Stadium Ownership Change

The Memphis Tigers are no strangers to making headlines, but this past week has undoubtedly been one for the books. It’s been a whirlwind of exciting developments and anticipation for the renowned football program, culminating in the late Saturday night confirmation to 4 Star Sports Media: the Tigers will make their second appearance in the prestigious AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

Fireworks ignite as Memphis scores a TD! – Photo Credits – Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

This marks a triumphant return to their hometown bowl game, a stage they last graced in 2017. The Tigers are stepping up as the representative for the American Athletic Conference, filling the void left by the Southeastern Conference, which fell short in providing enough bowl-eligible teams to meet the game’s contractual obligations for an SEC-versus-Big 12 matchup.

The timing of this announcement couldn’t be more fortuitous, as the city of Memphis is concurrently mulling over a resolution to transfer ownership of the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium to the University of Memphis. This potential transition could be finalized as early as December 30th, just a day after the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. This game, therefore, could provide a fitting inauguration for the Tigers’ program in their potentially new stomping grounds.

– Photo Credits – Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

For the Tigers, this game is more than just a second shot at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl glory. It represents a chance to redeem themselves against a Power 5 opponent, a feat they fell short of earlier this season against the formidable Missouri Tigers. The Big 12’s representative is yet to be officially announced, but the consensus suggests that the Iowa State Cyclones are the most probable contenders. The Cyclones were the Tigers’ rivals during their previous AutoZone Liberty Bowl appearance in 2017. Other potential representatives from the Big 12 include West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Central Florida.

This is a milestone moment in Ryan Silverfield‘s tenure as the Tigers’ head coach. The stakes are higher than ever, with the bowl game shaping up to be the most pivotal in the Tigers’ calendar since their appearance in the Cotton Bowl in 2019.

The Tigers wrapped up their regular season in grand style with an emphatic 45-21 victory over Temple. This win capped their season total at nine, making the 2023 Tigers just the tenth team in their illustrious program history to achieve this feat. However, a victory in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl would elevate the team to even greater heights: it would not only signify one of the program’s most significant bowl wins, but it could also propel Silverfield’s team into the rarefied annals of the program’s 109-year history, making them only the fifth team to win 10 or more games in a season.

– Photo Credits – Madison Penke / Madison Penke Photography

This thrilling prospect of a second AutoZone Liberty Bowl appearance isn’t the only development making waves in the Tigers’ camp. Several key Tigers players have already announced their intention to return next season, indicating a promising future for the team. With stadium renovations also on the cards, and an estimated bowl payout of over $4 million, the stakes are incredibly high for this storied football program. The Tigers have an incredible opportunity to conclude the season with a monumental victory, cementing their legacy and marking a defining moment in an unforgettable year.

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