Date: Saturday, November 18th
Kickoff: 11:00am CT
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Line: Memphis -12.5
Series Record: Memphis leads 6-3
SMU Outlook (Nick Armstrong)
SMU has to get back on the right foot, and quick. After a big let down against UCF and Navy, SMU now has to deal with another top notch AAC program in Memphis.
Last week, the offense was a tale of two halves. With the first quarter yielding only 11 points, fans had the right to be concerned. When SMU offense gets going, they have the ability to be one of the better offensive teams in the country. Receivers like Cortland Sutton, Trey Quinn, and James Proche really help out Ben Hicks in the passing game. We have seen these three really befome threats in this scheme. But for someone reason, it took till the second half to mount any kind of offense against Navy. SMU had one drive capped off by a Quinn touchdown that looked crisp, in the first half. But when the second half came around, SMU woke up and only had to punt once the entire second half. Offensively, things ended up going alright. Xavier Jones continued to be the leadinf rusher, while Cortland Sutton was the biggest target for Hicks. The best part of it all is Hicks is starting to really mature at quarterback. He is a great, young, talent for SMU fans to enjoy.
Although things worked out, would fans like to see a faster start, especially this week with Memphis looming? Absolutely. Memphis is going to score points, so SMU is going to have to just do their part on offense, and keep pace with this offensive juggernaut. Accumulating 40 points is impressive, and gives SMU plenty of a chance to win, but they need to start a bit quicker this game to try to have the momentum on their side.
Last week, it was not good defensively. The pass defense was spectacular. Navy attempted one pass, and it was intercepted by Delano Robinson. That was the only pass SMU had to defend, thus the reason why their pass defense was exceptional. But the rush defense was bad. With Malcolm Perry at the helm, Navy gashed SMU all game long on the ground totaling 559 yards. Obviously the rush defense will most likely not be nearly as bad against Memphis, as Navy and Memphis have two contrasting styles, but SMU has to play disciplined defense we have seen them play like before.
The main story of the game will be the SMU defense. I want to see if SMU will be able to defend the pass, similar to what they did against McKenzie Milton. We know Memphis’ strength is passing the ball. They are at their best when Riley Ferguson is the focal point of the offense. But SMU hasn’t defended a pass in a game since the UCF game two weeks ago (I’m disregarding the one pass from Navy), I am concerned that this lack of not seeing a passing offense the week before, will really hurt SMU this week against a dominant passing offense.
At the end of the day, Memphis has too much firepower. I think both offenses do their jobs, but Memphis simply has the more explosive offense. Both defenses will be shredded by elite passing attacks, and should be a high scoring affair. I’ll take Memphis.
Memphis 47, SMU 31
Memphis Outlook (Joey Broback)
This has always been a team that was poised to make a run at the conference title, and the pieces are all finally coming together. It wasn't always easy though. Injuries ravaged the defensive depth for Memphis at the beginning of the year, and young replacements were called upon to fill those key slots. The growing pains were obvious, but eventually there was less pain. Growth has been evident within this team and, while the defense has been the focus, there's been some key developments offensively.
Doroland Dorceus was expected to be the workhorse in the backfield coming into the season, but injuries prevented his season from getting started. That left the job to backups Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr., who have thrived in their roles all year. Henderson has been the feature back, and is on pace to give Memphis its first 1,000 yard rusher since 2009. Taylor has been rotated in, and took over when Henderson was injured against Houston, scoring a career high four touchdowns. That's not all in terms of players emerging. We all knew Riley Ferguson was going to be the man, and his receivers at the top were known. Anthony Miller, Phil Mayhue, and Tony Pollard were all expected to take on bigger roles in the offense. All three have been solid, but depth behind them has also emerged. Joey Magnifico, Sean Dykes, and Pop Williams have all stepped up in a big way at some point in the season, giving Ferguson a plethora of weapons. They'll need every last bit of it if a shootout ensues, and the defense will have their hands full with SMU's offense.
As stated earlier, the defense has matured as the season has progressed. Young players have received valuable experience, and have seen a steep learning curve because they were placed into "produce-now" situations. Steadying the way are leaders Genard Avery, Curtis Akins and Jonathan Cook, who have thrived because there is less pressure on them to get the rest of the group up to speed. Now that this group appears to be ready, they face one of their biggest tests yet.
Memphis still shows signs of its youth on defense, but those same players are the ones making key plays. SMU's defense has a couple players that can create turnovers, but the depth simply isn't there. Don't be fooled, though. This game could easily be a shootout. Not that you can underestimate Memphis' defense, but SMU's offense is just that good. The Tigers need to avoid a shootout, because the Mustangs can hang around with the weapons they possess.
Memphis 44 SMU 30
Who will pass for more yards in this game?
This poll is closed
Ben Hicks (SMU)
Riley Ferguson (Memphis)