The first half tonight saw more of the same for the SMU Mustangs. They racked up 310 yards of offense with almost an even 50/50 split between rushing and passing yards. The biggest difference was that the passing game saw Matt Davis throw a grand total of zero passes to the wrong team, while the running game featured four players combining for an average of nearly six yards per carry - and two fumbles in only eight carries for Braeden West.
Add in a fumble on a strip sack by Houston inside the Mustang 20 yard line, and you had enough for the Cougars to turn what was at one point a 14-7 deficit into a 28-21 halftime lead. The Mustangs may have outgained Houston, but the Coogs defense created enough problems that the difference was more of starting field position than defensive success.
It looked like SMU may have gotten a sudden swing of momentum early in the second half with a strip sack on Houston;s side of the field, but an inability to accomplish anything against a ratcheted-up pass rush meant a turnover on downs and no damage done.
Literally. Houston continued to blitz in the second half, and the Mustangs continued to have no clue what to do about it. The Ponies were held to a total of 45 yards in the third quarter, and 38 of that came on one play (yes, that means a total of seven yards on their other 14 plays).
SMU finished the second half with a measly total of 84 yards, 60 of which came on the scoring drive that gave them the 49-28 final deficit. This was in large part due to five sacks and numerous other quarterback pressures. Davis finished the game 21-34 for 248 yards and three touchdowns plus another 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but it just wasn't enough to keep up with the Cougars.
Houston needed only 462 yards of offense as Greg Ward Jr. passed the ball whenever he felt like it (16-for-18) to balance out a running game centered around Kenneth Barrow that the Mustangs had no answer for. Houston will get a slightly extended week to prepare for a road trip to Tulane next Friday, while the Mustangs will hope to put a little salve on what ails them in a road matchup with South Florida next weekend.