A blistering hot day in southwest Tennessee had Liberty Bowl patrons wiping brows and seeking hydration. The Memphis Tigers were set to host Kansas, a team from a power five conference – although the term “power” is used loosely, as the Jayhawks have not won a road game since 2009.
Anticipation for a new season was about as hot as the day’s temperature, and it could be felt around the stadium. The teamwalk to The Liberty Bowl attracted a throng of fans as the band and cheer squads joined in with a full force of pomp. Pouncer, the Tiger mascot, snapped pictures with Memphis supporters, but the big attraction came when the live mascot, Tom the Tiger, was police escorted to the stadium grounds. The crowds moved from the team walk and over to visit Tom and gaze in awe at the beautiful and intimidating creature. Tailgating surrounded the circumference of the arena and fans prepped themselves for a big game against this Big 12 foe – and we were in the midst of it all.
The home team jumped ahead early with an 84-yard touchdown reception that lifted the crowd off the bleachers. Kansas just looked awful – like 6 turnovers awful. Their band made the trip from Lawrence, but didn’t get much of an opportunity to play. On the other hand, Memphis’s band kept busy. We situated ourselves all around the stadium to take in various perspectives of the 43-7 blowout of the Jayhawks. Behind the band is where we set up shop for the first half – we memorized “Go Tigers Go” by halftime. With canons blasting and sirens blaring after each score, there was much for Memphis fans to celebrate in the first half. A slow second half and the steady heat had fans trickling out in the second half, giving us an opportunity to find a shadier spot underneath the press box. Even Tom the Tiger appeared in need of cooler temperatures as his shaded cage did little to provide comfort.
Beale Street helped us to close our weekend in Memphis in style. A day of sport morphed to a night of music in the street – a perfect football Saturday in the Home of the Blues.