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Posted August 31, 2011
Tigers Set To Open Season With The Bulldogs
MEMPHIS, TENN. – The 2011 Tiger football season officially opens Thursday night when the Bulldogs of Mississippi State come to town for a non-conference tilt. Game time is set for 7 p.m., at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game is being carried nationally by Fox Sports with Ron Thulin and JC Pearson handling the booth duties, and Jeremy Bloom covering the sidelines.
Because the game is being broadcast for television, fans with a Memphis Tiger Vision subscription will not be able to watch the game via on-line streaming. The game is listed on multiple channels on DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast Cable. It is available on the radio through the official flagship station, WREC AM600. Dave Woloshin and Wayne Weedon provide the commentary from the booth, with Matt Dillon on the sidelines again this season.
Thursday’s Labor Day weekend game is the 44th overall meeting between the two schools. The Bulldogs hold a 32-11 advantage in the series. The last time the two teams met on the gridiron was last season, with Mississippi State taking a 49-7 win in Starkville. The 2010 meeting renewed the rivalry that had been on a six-year hiatus (2004-09), the longest break in the series since the two schools did not play eight-straight years from 1966-73. Memphis and Mississippi State played on a yearly basis for 30-consecutive seasons from 1974-2003.
Last Friday, coach Larry Porter officially announced Andy Summerlin as the Tigers’ starting quarterback for the season opener. A redshirt-sophomore from Apopka, Fla., Summerlin came to the U of M in January 2010 after playing one season at Coffeyville Community College, where he earned first-team all-conference and team MVP honors. During his time at Coffeyville, Summerlin led the Ravens to an NJCAA No. 12 national ranking, while passing for a school-record 2,302 yards and a single game record-tying 32 completions against Navarro College. Summerlin (6-5, 220) was poised to compete for the starting job last season, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the Tigers’ first scrimmage of spring practice.
Memphis Versus Ranked Bulldogs Teams
For the 11th time in the series, Memphis plays a Mississippi State squad ranked in the national polls. The Bulldogs enter the Sept. 1 encounter ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. In the previous 10 meetings when Memphis faced a ranked Bulldogs squad, Mississippi State holds a narrow 6-4 edge. Three of the six Bulldogs victories, though, were close calls, with Mississippi State pulling out those three wins by four points or fewer. The last time Memphis defeated a ranked Bulldogs squad was the 1993 campaign. That season, the Tigers — with Larry Porter at running back — recorded a stunning 45-35 victory over No. 23 Mississippi State.
On This Date
The Tigers have a 1-1-1 record when playing on Sept. 1, and all three Sept. 1 contests were played at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The last time Memphis played a Sept. 1 game was the 2007 campaign, and the Tigers dropped a narrow 23-21 decision to Ole Miss in the season opener for both schools. Memphis’ Sept. 1 victory was a 17-2 win over Arkansas State to open the 1984 campaign. The Tigers also hosted Arkansas State in the 1990 season opener on Sept. 1, and the teams battled to a 24-all tie. Memphis head coach Larry Porter made his collegiate debut in that Sept. 1, 1990, contest versus Arkansas State.
There’s A First Time For Everything
For the first time in the modern era of the program’s history (since World War II), Memphis opens a football season on the Thursday of the extended Labor Day weekend when the Tigers host Mississippi State Sept. 1. The Sept. 1 game versus Mississippi State marks the fourth different day over the Labor Day weekend the Tigers have opened a campaign. Over the extended Labor Day weekend since 2005, Memphis has played on Saturday (2007, 2008, 2010), Sunday (2006, 2009) and Monday (2005).
Porter Versus Mississippi State
While he dropped his collegiate head coach debut to the Bulldogs last year, Larry Porter’s overall record against Mississippi State is a good one. As a player, assistant coach and head coach, Porter is 7-3 against Mississippi State (2-2 as a Memphis player; 5-0 as an LSU assistant coach; 0-1 as head coach). The two setbacks Porter suffered to Mississippi State as a player were narrow four-point losses (27-23 in 1990; 20-16 in 1992).
The first three games of the season have the Tigers playing opponents from three different conferences – the SEC, the Sun Belt and the Ohio Valley. Next weekend, the Tigers will load the buses and make the 70-mile trip to Jonesboro, Ark., to face the Red Wolves on Sept. 10. Memphis is 28-22-5 over ASU since the series began in 1914.
Rucker Holds Receiving Streak
Junior Marcus Rucker enters the 2011 season opener on a 12-game receiving streak. The leading offensive scorer from the 2010 squad, Rucker posted 41 catches for 704 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. The next-leading returning offensive scorer, running back Jerrell Rhodes, scored 12 points as a true freshman last season.
Another Streaking Tiger ...
Junior kicker Paulo Henriques, who led the team in scoring with 59 points last season (14 FG, 17 PAT), opens the 2011 season with a streak of nine consecutive field goals and eight consecutive PATs. Henriques, who took over place-kicking duties in 2010, missed his first two career attempts against Mississippi State last season (49, 48 yds). By mid-season, he was hitting on all cylinders and booted nine straight to close out the year. Of those nine, five were for 40-plus yards, including a career-best 47 yarder against Southern Miss. In 2010, he was a perfect 8-of-8 from 39 yards and under.