In their respective climbs out of the football wilderness and into the forefront, Memphis and Arkansas State were always there for each other. The programs, just an hour’s drive from northeast Arkansas to southwest Tennessee, began playing in 1914 and played semi-continuously save for a break in the 1960’s.
The Tigers and Red Wolves last played in 2013, a 31-7 Memphis win, but did not have plans to meet again.
That is, until yesterday.
Arkansas State announced a four-game home-and-home to resume their on-again, off-again rivalry with Memphis. The Tigers and Red Wolves will play annually from 2020 through 2023, with Memphis hosting the even years and Arkansas State the odd.
“It’s probably the most talked about and popular opponent when it comes to scheduling,” Arkansas State athletics director Terry Mohajir told Arkansas Online. “I think it’s good for their fan base; I think it’s good for our fan base. It’s a really good regional matchup.”
Memphis halted the series out of a desire to build a national schedule, but then reversed course after realizing that Arkansas State was an easy ticket sell. That, and a friendly game of shuffleboard between Mohajir and Memphis AD Tom Bowen at college football advisory board meetings this winter.
“I said, ‘If I beat you we’ll play; if you beat me, I’ll never ask you again,’ ” Mohajir said.
Memphis holds a 29-23-5 lead in the all-time series.