Date & Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. CT
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
Live Stats: SMU Game Tracker
Betting Line: SMU -3, O/U 56
The Green Wave has gathered their 3 wins this year by defeating either, opponents that were absolutely hopeless (UCF), or bad FCS teams like Maine (7th in the Colonial Athletic Conference). When compared to SMU's schedule that includes TCU, Baylor, and a very respectable James Madison team that is 8-2 so far this season there is a distinction to be made.
Both teams are bad. But don't let the records fool you, SMU has had the much more challenging schedule.
The SMU Mustangs head into their final home game of the season as broken and battered team that has lost their buzz from a coaching change this off-season. Chad Morris didn't bring magical pixie dust from Death Valley to sprinkle on the team to make them AAC contenders and now they have to look themselves in the mirror and realize that they need to salvage something from this season of heavy disappointment.
Tulane has been regressing the last two years after a 7-6 finish in 2013.despite having a promising coach in Curtis Johnson that has won National Championship (Miami) and a Superbowl (New Orleans Saints). Johnson has a great reputation as a recruiter, but that skill hasn't helped Tulane to get over the hump on game day thus far.
Both teams have defenses that rank worse that 100th in the nation so don't expect a low scoring affair. SMU has the clear talent advantage on the offensive side of the ball that will put a lot of pressure on Tanner Lee to keep pace with SMU's Matt Davis and Courtland Sutton. SMU running backs Xavier Jones and Braeden West have shown flashes of talent, but they never seem to get enough carries because SMU has fallen behind early so often this season.
Keys to the Game
Sophomore Tanner Lee will need to have a better showing than he did against Army. Yes, they won, but WR Teddy Veal had the game of his life gaining 90 of his 123 yards on a 1st quarter bomb. Since both defenses struggle, inefficiency and turnovers will be a death sentence. Dontrell Hilliard will need to find the end-zone. Despite averaging 5.5 yards-per-carry, he has only found the end zone 6 times this season. And, of course, Tulane's defensive leaders will need to step up. Sure, Matt Davis isn't Trevone Boykin, but he's still a very athletic QB that has accounted for 25 scores so far this year, with 9 of them on the ground, which is one less than Tulane has as a team.
Matt Davis needs to get in a groove early, either through the air or on the ground. I doubt Tulane has a DB that will be able to match Sutton's size at 6'4'' and 215 lbs. Take a few shots down the field early and let him get up and grab a few deep balls. Running backs Jones and West are both freshman, but now might be the time for Morris to put a little weight on their shoulders.
Prediction: SMU 35 - Tulane 21
SMU is simply more talented on the offensive side of the ball with Davis and Sutton. This will end up being the battle of which defense is going to end the season with a little pride. SMU has been through a gauntlet this year and since this is their final home game of the season, I see their defense showing a little bit of life. Even if both defenses have the tensile strength of a wet paper bag, Tulane doesn't have the horses on offense to keep up.