WHO: The 0-7 SMU Mustangs, who have the honor of being the only winless team in all of FBS, will hit the road to take on the 1-7 Tulsa Golden Hurricane. SMU is sitting on an 0-3 record in AAC play, while Tulsa stands at 1-3 thanks to a season-opening win over Tulane.
WHEN & WHERE: Saturday afternoon, 12 p.m. ET at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
LINE: Tulsa is currently listed as a 12.5-point favorite.
F/+: It's not pretty! Tulsa is 115th, while SMU is 128th. That is last.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: Avoiding the AAC cellar, for starters. SMU is just trying to get something in the win column in what's been a total nightmare of a season, getting outscored by an average of 41 points per game and having head coach June Jones step down halfway through the year. This game, or perhaps next week vs. USF at home, is probably their only realistic shot at a W all season. Tulsa has been close lately but hasn't been able to get over the hump, blowing double-digit leads in their last two games against USF and Memphis. A win against SMU might get the ball rolling for the Hurricane down the stretch and take a wee bit of heat off coach Bill Blankenship.
TELL ME MORE: Tulsa's got a stud at wideout, a quarterback who can throw the football at a serviceable level... and not much else. Still, a receiver as good as sophomore Keevan Lucas counts for something. Lucas has 75 receptions for 929 yards and eight touchdowns on the season, and has eclipsed 100 yards receiving in each of his last four games.
The man in charge of getting him the ball is fellow sophomore Dane Evans, who's been a respectable if inefficient gunslinger for the Hurricane. He's gotten himself into a bit of a groove as of late, throwing for over 300 yards with no interceptions in each of his last two games. A leaky SMU defense (121st in defensive F/+) might be the spark Tulsa needs to get their uninspiring ground game going; then again, teams haven't really needed to be clicking on all cylinders to put up points on the Mustangs this season.
Still, it works both ways. The Hurricane have an abominable defense of their own, surrendering over 40 points per game, so perhaps the beleaguered SMU offense can find a way to move the ball against them. That may be wishful thinking, seeing as SMU hasn't really moved the ball against anyone: their quarterbacks have combined for a measly 4.52 yards per attempt and nine interceptions to just three touchdowns. The running game isn't faring much better either, as the Mustangs average 2.3 yards a carry... which, yikes.
SMU WILL WIN IF... The Mustangs have to find a way to put up points. It's almost a given that Tulsa is going to score on the SMU defense-- probably quite a bit-- so the Mustangs have to find a way to match pace. Anything less than 20 is not going to cut it.
TULSA WILL WIN IF... They stay efficient. Evans doesn't need to be a hero for Tulsa to win this one-- if he avoids turnovers and does enough to keep the chains moving, the Hurricane will be in good shape. The same goes for the defense: SMU hasn't been able to drive up and down the field on anyone, so avoiding surrendering big plays will be crucial.
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN: Neither of these teams are playing anything close to good football right now, but it seems like a safe bet that a frustrated Tulsa squad will take out some of their recent frustrations against an SMU team that hasn't been remotely competitive. Perhaps the Mustangs found some sort of spark over their bye week, but Tulsa will still likely ride the Evans-Lucas tandem to an easy win.