EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson found favorite target Anthony Miller early and often on Friday night, setting records in the process.
Ferguson threw for 431 yards and seven touchdowns, four of them to Miller, as Memphis routed UConn 70-31.
Ferguson, who played just three quarters, completed 34 of 48 passes and the Tigers put up 711 yards of total offense.
The seven touchdown throws tied Paxton Lynch’s school and conference record. Ferguson was 26 of 37 for 325 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone.
Miller had 15 receptions for 224 yards for Memphis (4-1, 1-1 American Athletic Conference). His four TD catches also tied an AAC record and set a school mark.
Ferguson and Miller connected on scores from 17, 8 and 40 yards in the first half, and the Tigers went into the break ahead 35-24. Memphis then scored the first 28 points of the second half, highlighted by a 32-yard catch from Miller over a defender in the back of the end zone.
“Ever since I’ve gotten here, that’s a guy who has stayed with me after practice and we throw every single day,” Ferguson said. “I think just on a daily basis our chemistry is building even more than it already is.”
The win came a week after the Tigers were blown out 40-13 by UCF. But this time, they were playing the worst pass defense in the FBS. The Huskies came in giving up 542 yards a game, with a secondary that has four freshmen in the two-deep depth chart.
“I think we came out here kind of mad and when we came out here we took it out on the other team — UConn,” said Miller, who now has a catch in all 30 games he has played and has multiple catches in 13 straight games.
The 70 points were the most the Huskies have given up since the school started playing football in 1896.
“All I can say is embarrassment, disappointment,” said defensive back Anthony Watkins. “It hurts a lot.”
Bryant Shirreffs threw for 310 yards for UConn (1-4, 0-3) and the Huskies got 114 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Arkeel Newsome.
Doroland Dorceus had 22 carries for 122 yards for Memphis. His two rushing touchdowns and all but 23 of his yards came in the second half.
UConn: The Huskies have now lost eight straight conference games. Connecticut’s last conference win and last win over an FBS opponent came a full year ago, Oct. 8, 2016, when the Huskies beat Cincinnati 20-9 in East Hartford.
Memphis: It was the third time Ferguson has thrown for at least six touchdowns. It was his second 400-yard passing game (409 against Houston last season) and his 10th with at least 300 yards. The only Tiger with more is Lynch, who had 12.
“I look up to Paxton,” said Ferguson. “Just the fact that I’m even in the same sentence with Paxton Lynch means a lot to me.”
Ferguson was coming off a game against UCF in which he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. The Tigers did not turn the ball over in this one. UConn strip sacked Ferguson in the third quarter, but the ball bounced right back into his arms while he was on the ground. The Tigers scored 14 points on three UConn turnovers.
Memphis linebacker Austin Hall, the Tigers leading tackler coming in, was ejected on a targeting call in the first quarter, lunging to tackle running back Kevin Mensah. The Tigers were already missing linebacker Curtis Akins with an injury and linebacker Jackson Dillon who was lost for the season after being hurt in the Tiger’s opener.
“I know the intent was not there,” said coach Mike Norvell. “I just hate to see a young man lose a game when I know his intent was not to target or to try and harm somebody.”
UConn: The Huskies travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple next Saturday.
Memphis: The Tigers return home to face Navy at the Liberty Bowl.