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Memphis erases another double-digit deficit, pulls away from Tulane late

Memphis had to work for it. The next step in the Tigers' quest for an undefeated season proved treacherous for nearly three quarters until Justin Fuente's team pulled away late to beat Tulane 41-13 at the Liberty Bowl.

For much of the night, Tulane closed passing windows and kept Paxton Lynch in check. The Green Wave jumped ahead 13-0, and even when Memphis made its trademark comeback, the boys from New Orleans hung around. Dontrell Hilliard found running room and Tanzel Smart harassed Lynch. It took a seemingly innocuous pass late in the third quarter to break the dam, and Memphis rushed through, scoring 16 points in 86 seconds. Lynch finished with 343 pass yards and a touchdown, completing 26 of 42 attempts.

What the win means for Memphis: The Tigers remain alive for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl and possibly the College Football Playoff, if things fall right. Ole Miss' win against Auburn continues to boost Memphis, which would have the strongest case for Playoff inclusion if it beats the eventual SEC champion. Memphis once again showed that double-digit deficits are no problem -- it erased one for the fifth time in eight games -- and that it can rely on its defense until the offense gets on track.

What the loss means for Tulane: It's a missed opportunity for Curtis Johnson's team, which dominated the first quarter and remained within striking distance late in the third quarter before things fell apart. Tulane's defense played well for much of the game, but repeated special teams breakdowns proved costly as the Green Wave gave away points and field position. It's another lopsided loss for Tulane, which has only one win against an FBS opponent, winless UCF. Tulane faces an improving Connecticut squad next week before the schedule lets up a bit down the stretch.

The game turned when: Jamarius Henderson raced 43 yards for a touchdown after catching a short pass from Lynch with 1:26 left in the third quarter. Memphis finally took a two-score lead at 25-13, and after Tulane botched the ensuing kickoff return, Memphis tacked on a safety on the next play. The Tigers never looked back.

Stat of the game: Tulane owned the first quarter, holding a 11:45-3:15 edge in possession time. But the Green Wave had the ball for less than six minutes in the next two quarters as Memphis pulled ahead for good. Memphis held Tulane scoreless for the final 44:15.