MEMPHIS IS AUTONATION NATIONAL TEAM OF THE WEEK

Tigers roar back to extend winning streak to 13 

DALLAS (FWAA) – The Memphis Tigers put an exclamation point on their first 6-0 start since 1961 with an offensive show against No. 12 Ole Miss, rallying from a 14-0 deficit to score the next 31 points in a 37-24 win in front of 60,241 at the Liberty Bowl. By extending their current win streak to 13 – the third-longest in the nation – the Tigers earned the AutoNation National Team of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Oct. 17.

Quarterback Paxton Lynch was the catalyst, completing 39-of-53 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Memphis came up big on key plays, converting 12-of-20 third-downs as receiver Anthony Miller set a career-high with 10 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown, and Mose Frazier caught eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Ole Miss scored on its first two possessions before the Memphis defense clamped down, holding the Rebels scoreless for 32:45, allowing the offense to register the 31-point run.

Memphis’ 13-game winning streak extends its all-time best for the program, whose previous record for consecutive wins was 10 during its undefeated 1938 season and also stretching through the 1960 and ’61 seasons.

“I think there was a time in the first quarter when they thought, ‘Maybe coach hasn’t been lying to us forever and we can do this,'” Memphis head coach Justin Fuente said. “I think there was a moment of realization today, but I’m not sure when it was. My message to the team was you don’t have to be better than you are. You don’t have to be someone you aren’t. The best ‘you’ is what we need.”

Other AutoNation National Team of the Week nominees for the weekend of Oct. 17 included:

Idaho (2-4): The Vandals earned a tip of the cap for overcoming a rugged travel schedule to win at Troy, 19-16, and snap a 24-game road losing streak. Due to mechanical issues, the team’s charter flight didn’t leave until 3:30 a.m. local time and arrived in Alabama at 9 a.m., just five hours before kickoff. Following breakfast and team meetings, the Vandals still had a one-hour bus ride to the stadium. Austin Rehkow booted four field goals, including the game-winning 19-yarder with 3:01 left.

Michigan State (7-0): The Spartans remained unbeaten in the most improbable fashion, scoring on a play that will be forever remembered and replayed in college football history as Jalen Watts-Jackson, a backup redshirt freshman used primarily on special teams, picked up a punter’s fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown on the final play for a 27-23 win at arch-rival Michigan. Michigan State won a game it didn’t led until the final gun.

Utah State (4-2): The Aggies stayed undefeated in the Mountain West Conference, rolling to a 52-26 win over No. 21 Boise State by forcing with eight turnovers – seven in the first half – as USU controlled the game from the start to gain a 45-10 halftime lead. Utah State has now won 12 in a row at home.

As part of AutoNation’s history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in the University of Memphis’ name. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch’s only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.

“We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer,” says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. “This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we’re determined to tackle.”

“In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes,” said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort.”

The Football Writers Association of America has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. This is the first season AutoNation has presented the award. Members of the FWAA All-America Committee decide the weekly honor. Each remaining Monday during the 2015 college football regular season, the FWAA will name a National Team of the Week. Members of the FWAA All-America Committee decide the weekly honor.

AutoNation is also the presenting sponsor of the FWAA’s national offensive and defensive players of the week  announced each Tuesday, the 2015 FWAA All-America Team and the 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.

About AutoNation, Inc.:
AutoNation is transforming the automotive retail industry through bold leadership. We deliver a peerless automotive retail experience through our customer-focused sales and service processes. Owning and operating 293 new vehicle franchises, which sell 35 new vehicle brands across 15 states, AutoNation is America’s largest automotive retailer, with state-of-the-art operations and the ability to leverage economies of scale that benefit the customer. As an indication of our leadership position in our industry, AutoNation is a component of the S&P 500 Index.

About the AutoNation Cure Bowl:
The AutoNation Cure Bowl a new post-season NCAA football game whose net proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The AutoNation Cure Bowl takes place December 19 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network. The bowl is scheduled to involve teams from the American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences.

About the Football Writers Association of America:
Founded in 1941, the FWAA consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2015 AutoNation National Teams of the Week
• Weekend of Sept. 5: Temple Owls
• Weekend of Sept. 12: Toledo Rockets
• Weekend of Sept. 19: Ole Miss Rebels
• Weekend of Sept. 26: Utah Utes
• Weekend of Oct. 3: Florida Gators
• Weekend of Oct. 10: Texas Longhorns
• Weekend of Oct. 17: Memphis Tigers

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