Entering this season, any list of Group of Five head coaches who could be targets of a Power Five search included Mike Norvell. After today, the Memphis coach likely inched closer to the top of that particular class.
In a back-and-forth affair that featured a pair of ties and seven lead changes, a three-yard touchdown pass from Riley Ferguson proved to be the difference as Memphis outlasted No. 25 UCLA 48-45. The Tigers remained a perfect 3-0 on the season, while the Bruins dropped its first game of the year after winning its first two, the first a scintillating come-from-behind win over Texas A&M in the season opener.
Memphis took its largest lead of the game early in the third quarter, with another Ferguson touchdown pass put the Tigers up 34-24. For the game, Ferguson threw for 398 yards and a career-high six touchdowns.
After Josh Rosen tossed a pick-six to push the Tigers’ lead back out to 10 at 41-31, the junior quarterback tossed a pair of touchdown passes on two of the next three possessions to give the Bruins its last lead of the game at 45-41 and its first since late in the second quarter.
Rosen threw for a game-high 463 yards and four touchdowns, although his two interceptions were critical in the loss, a loss that continues a disturbing trend for the Bruins.
UCLA has lost its last 4 games as a ranked team vs an unranked opponent, per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) September 16, 2017
While Norvell’s stock is rising, the heat underneath his counterpart, Jim Mora, continues to climb. Mora was one a handful of coaches who, entering the season, was viewed as being in a win-or-else situation. Games such as this certainly won’t help make Mora’s case for continuing on in 2018.