Florida State will underestimate Heupel and Oklahoma at its own peril.
Memphis's Surprising D
Tigers No. 1 Against the Run
For the first season since the NCAA began keeping records in 1937, a team with a losing record led the nation in rushing defense. Memphis, which finished 4-7, allowed only 72.7 rushing yards per game, edging runner-up Florida State, which surrendered 73.9.
The Tigers wound up sixth in total defense (275.2 yards per game) and 15th in scoring defense (18.1 points) but couldn't score enough points to save the job of coach Rip Scherer, who was fired on Nov. 20 after failing to produce a winning record in six seasons. His offense was 111th in the nation in total yards (255.7 a game) and 102nd in scoring average (16.1 points).
Memphis replaced Scherer not with an offensive coach but with his defensive coordinator, Tommy West. He seems an odd choice to spark the Tigers' attack: West's teams at Clemson, where he coached for five seasons before being fired in 1998, were known for being tough on defense and unimaginative on offense.