FACTS & STATS: Site: H.A. Chapman Stadium (30,000) — Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SMU 0-4, Tulsa 1-3. Away Record: SMU 0-3,
Tulsa 0-4. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, Tulsa 0-0. Conference Record: SMU 0-3,
Tulsa 1-3. Series Record: SMU leads, 13-7.
GAME NOTES: Both the SMU Mustangs and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be
seeking to end respective seven-game losing streaks as they clash head to head
in an American Athletic Conference battle at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
SMU’s season has been one of the worst in college football this season, as the
Mustangs find themselves last in the AAC and in several statistical categories
at the FBS level. Having scored double digits for the second time in a game
all season last weekend, SMU will now be looking for its first win.
Tulsa picked up a season-opening victory over conference rival Tulane in late
August, and hasn’t picked up a win since. The Golden Hurricane have lost seven
in a row, including a one-sided defeat at the hands of Memphis last weekend,
The two programs have met 20 times on the field before. SMU holds the all-time
series lead, 13-7, and has won three of the last four contests, including a
35-27 in Dallas back in 2012.
SMU scored a combined 12 points in its first four games of the season before
the team doubled that in a 45-24 loss to East Carolina back in October. Since
that game, the Mustangs have scored three points and 10 points against
Cincinnati and Memphis, respectively. They are coming off a much-needed bye
week heading into this matchup with struggling Tulsa.
The Mustangs are averaging 7.0 ppg this season – by far the worst total in the
FBS. Since junior quarterback Garrett Krstich has taken over under center, the
team has picked up the offensive pace ever so slightly. Krstich leads the team
with 849 passing yards and two touchdowns against six interceptions. For an
SMU team that has been to bowl games in four of the last five seasons, this
2014 campaign is a disastrous disappointment.
The run game for the Mustangs has been relatively non-existent as well. SMU is
averaging 66.1 rushing ypg, and as a unit the team has scored twice on the
ground all season long. Prescott Line has both of those rushing touchdowns,
and a team-best 124 yards on 39 carries. But a 17.7 rushing ypg average for
the tailback is still awful.
The team’s defense hasn’t helped the cause. Opponents haven’t scored fewer
than 41 points in all seven of SMU’s games this year, with a few 50-plus
losses thrown in. The team is allowing 48.0 ppg (last in the nation) and well
over 550 offensive ypg (last in the nation) to the opposition. Most of the
damage has come through the air, with opponents racking up 313.6 ypg and 22
touchdowns via the pass.
Hayden Greenbauer leads the team with 46 tackles on the season, followed
closely by Darrion Richardson’s 45 total stops. With just two team
interceptions and three fumble recoveries, the Mustangs rank last in the FBS
with five total turnovers gained, and are sitting at 115th in the nation with
1.14 sacks per game as a unit. Lineman Zach Wood’s two sacks is a team high,
and linebacker Stephon Sanders’s 4.5 tackles for loss is another team best.
Similar to SMU, Tulsa is in the midst of a seven-game skid entering the
showdown with the winless Mustangs. But unlike SMU, Tulsa has been able to
score points in those losses, accounting for 50 combined in the last two
games. Against Memphis in the team’s last outing, quarterback Dane Evans put
up a strong performance, throwing for 349 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It
was the defense that couldn’t handle the Tigers.
Evans has started all eight games for the Golden Hurricane this season, and
has played well for the most part. He’s accounted for 2,290 yards and 14
touchdowns against nine interceptions, with a completion percentage hovering
around 55 percent. He and top receiver Keevan Lucas have formed an unstoppable
tandem, hooking up for 929 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
The run game has been what is lacking for Tulsa on offense in 2014. Zack
Langer averages a team-best 68.4 rushing ypg, and is the only other player
besides Evans (two) who has multiple rushing touchdowns, punching three scores
in so far. But at 135.4 ypg on the ground, the Golden Hurricane have become a
pass-reliant team. At 23.9 ppg and 430.1 offensive ypg, Tulsa needs to get
more help from its defense in order to start picking up wins.
That defense has been responsible for letting up at least 31 points in every
game this season, including four that saw opponents score 40 or more. The team
is averaging 40.6 ppg surrendered through those eight contests, and 486.2
offensive ypg – both extremely poor numbers. And with just nine turnovers
gained on the year, Tulsa ranks in a tie for 110th in the FBS.
Michael Mudoh is the team leader in tackles with 74 through the first eight
games, and he has two forced fumbles. The majority of the disruption in an
opponents’ backfield is caused by Derrick Alexander, who has 7.5 tackles for
loss and five sacks along with two forced fumbles. The team only has four
interceptions on the season, but that number should change going against an
SMU team known for giving the ball away.
This is a very unappealing matchup in the AAC, but even though the two teams
are in the basement of the conference standings, Tulsa is still several steps
above SMU. The Golden Hurricane’s 23.9 ppg average will be enough to get by
the Mustangs, who haven’t been on the road since the first weekend in October.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 34, SMU 12