FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) — Dallas, Texas.
Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Memphis 2-1, SMU 0-3. Away Record: Memphis
1-2, SMU 0-3. Neutral Record: Memphis 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: Memphis
1-1, SMU 0-2. Series Record: Series tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: The SMU Mustangs have had a rough start to their 0-6 season, but
now with American Athletic Conference play in full swing, they’ll try to turn
things around, starting with a contest against the Memphis Tigers at Gerald
Memphis is coming off a bye week in which the Tigers had time to stew over a
close 28-24 loss to Houston in their most recent outing. The Tigers have
dropped two of their last three games, but get a favorable matchup against the
winless Mustangs, even on the road.
SMU has only scored more than six points in a contest once this whole season –
a 45-24 loss to East Carolina that actually felt as though the Mustangs had a
chance. The team is fresh off another drubbing, this time at the hands of
Cincinnati last weekend, 41-3.
The all-time series between these two new conference rivals is knotted up at
3-3, but the Mustangs have won each of the last three contests, which have
occurred in the last three years.
Memphis actually had the edge over Houston offensively in the Tigers’ most
recent bout, outgaining the Cougars in first downs (20-15) and in total
offensive yards (368-354). But Houston’s defense stepped up in the second half
and limited the Tigers to just a late-game field goal in the comeback effort.
Memphis struggled to run the ball effectively against Houston, and has been
reeling a bit since the announcement that running back Doroland Dorceus would
miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
The Tigers still average 195.8 rushing ypg, but have lost two of their last
three games in which Dorceus has either been limited or out completely. Sam
Craft leads Memphis this season with 78 carries for 301 yards, and has added
three rushing scores. Quarterback Paxton Lynch has taken it up a notch in his
dual-threat run game, with 133 yards and a team-best six rushing touchdowns in
Lynch in the passing game has been relatively effective, with a 63.8
completion percentage and a 132.8 passer efficiency rating. He’s thrown for
1,401 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions, and has a bevy of
receivers to which he can throw to.
Alan Cross has a team-best three touchdown catches, but Keiwone Malone (21)
and Tevin Jones (20) are the team leaders in receptions. The team as a whole
is averaging 33.7 ppg and 429.3 total ypg, so even without Dorceus the Tigers
are still a force on offense.
The Tigers defensively have been relatively strong, but inconsistent. In the
past four games, they’ve allowed opponents to score 28, 14, 24 and 17 points,
respectively. This season, the team is surrendering 20.8 ppg and 357.2 total
ypg. But going against an SMU team that is just dismal in the offensive
department, the Tigers should absolutely have no trouble containing the
Mustangs and limiting any sort of attack they can present.
The defense is anchored by Tank Jakes, who has 50 total tackles this season
and a team-best 12 tackles for loss with six sacks. He checks in tied at third
in the entire FBS in tackles for loss per game (2.0) and tied for seventh in
sacks per game (1.0). The Memphis defense has registered 16 sacks this season,
while SMU has given up 35 to opponents through six games. Get ready for a
healthy dose of Jakes.
SMU trailed just 6-3 at the end of the first quarter against Cincinnati, but
like so many games before for the Mustangs, the opponent simply went off the
rest of the way. The Bearcats scored 35 unanswered points en route to the 41-3
victory – the sixth straight game in which the team has allowed 40-plus
points. In fact, 41 points is the lowest total SMU has held any opponent to
this season. The Mustangs managed just 276 yards of total offense in the loss
– more than half came from quarterback Garrett Krstich.
Krstich, who has played in four games this season after earning the starting
job as a walk-on fourth stringer, was benched last weekend in the fourth
quarter after throwing for 172 yards and two interceptions. He also had a
fumble that was returned for a Cincinnati touchdown. Texas A&M transfer Matt
Davis replaced Krstich and completed just 3-of-6 pass attempts. It will be a
toss-up this weekend as to which quarterback will get the starting nod under
To make matters worse, the Mustangs don’t get much added help from their run
game. Davis led the team last weekend with 41 yards on four carries, while
Prescott Line finished the game with a team-best eight totes. SMU is averaging
54.3 rushing ypg (third-worst in the country), and has just one rushing
touchdown all season. The team is averaging a dismal 6.5 ppg, the worst
scoring offense in the FBS by far.
Naturally when a team’s offense struggles to score any points and stay on the
field, the defense gets worn down and gives up points. The Mustangs are
allowing opponents to score 48.0 ppg (last in the FBS by nearly five points on
average) and rack up 548.8 offensive ypg. Memphis isn’t the most adept
offensive team in the country, but the Tigers should have no issues with
pinning another 40 points on SMU.
Darrion Richardson leads the team with 42 tackles, while Zach Wood has an SMU-
high two sacks. As a group, the Mustangs have recorded a total of four
turnovers this season – two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
There’s not a whole lot that can fix the sinking ship this season that is SMU
football. Memphis won’t have any issue going on the road and taking down the
AAC basement dwellers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 43, SMU 10