In a weekend of absolute craziness, the result of this game were not exactly that unusual. What was unusual however, was how close the game was and how the game ended. Tulane fans may have a gripe, but at the end of the day did not do enough to win.
The first three drives each resulted in scores to start the game. SMU wasted no time starting off with the ball. As we have seen all year, this SMU offense has been explosive. Ben Hicks was the main cog in the first drive, but Ke’Mon Freeman (one of my keys for the game) was able to cap off the opening drive with a three yard rushing touchdown. Tulane had a clear answer though, led by Johnathan Banks passing the ball with success. While Tulane has the ability to rush the ball well, Banks led a solid drive and capped it off with a 52 yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney. But as I stated earlier, SMU would get Tulane one more time before the scoring ended in the first quarter. It was Hicks again, with almost no help from the running game, getting SMU in goal to go situations. Freeman again was able to punch it in from four yards out.
The second quarter started with a Tulane three-and-out and an awful punt giving SMU excellent field position. But, SMU gave the ball right back to Tulane. Hicks was intercepted by Taris Shenall. Combine that with a nice return and it seemed like Tulane might have been in business. But a strip sack by Demerick Gary later in the Tulane drive would give SMU the ball back. That was the turning point in the half as both teams would trade scores (two for each team). Ryan Becker and Trey Quinn got receiving scores for SMU, while Darius Bradwell had two rushing scores for Tulane. The only fault in the drive was when SMU’s kicker Kevin Robledo missed a PAT. SMU did have a chance at the end of the half to try to get some more points, but Hicks was intercepted with under 30 seconds in the half by Perry Nickerson to conclude the half. The score was closer at 27-21.
It’s fair to say that Tulane dominated the third quarter. asSMU came out of the locker-room completely unprepared. Tulane would take their time on a long 12 play, 75 yard, drive that resulted in another Darnell Mooney receiving touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Braeden West would fumble the ball at the 14 yard line. Tulane would make them pay and would extend their lead after a 14 yard run by Dontrell Hilliard. At this point, many Tulane fans had reason to believe they might be going bowling.
SMU finally woke up at that point and was able to drive down the field to get the score within one, courtesy of James Proche. Tulane was able to answer with a field goal by Merek Glover, after Darnell Mooney was able to put Tulane in great position. The score at the end of the third was 38-34.
The fourth quarter is where things got controversial SMU had to punt on their first possession of the fourth. Tulane would then do what they do best, control the clock. It ultimately resulted in Johnathan Banks getting sacked by Justin Lawler for 14 yards at midfield. An interesting decision to not play for field position. Tulane, at the very worst, could’ve put SMU at least 25 yards further back. Due to that great field position, SMU had a nice short field they could capitalize on. They took their sweet time driving down the field with Freeman being the leader running the football. Trey Quinn came up clutch with the 19 yard receiving touchdown to take the lead 41-38. Of course, Tulane had one drive to tie or win the game. With under 2 minutes in the game, Banks was forced to pass the ball, and he did so very well. We will fast forward all the way till the last few seconds. Tulane had the ball with 13 seconds left in the game, and Willie Fritz calls for his second timeout. Tulane throws a pass up to Charles Jones, but SMU was called for a pass interference. They decide to take another timeout with nine seconds on the clock. This led to the most controversial call of the weekend. The SMU d-line appears to get to Banks before he crosses the line of scrimmage.
One more look at the Tulane play called short of the goal line and upheld after review: pic.twitter.com/lL9gyHJsQB— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 25, 2017
But, if you look closely, the video shows that Banks rolled over the tackler into the end zone for what should be a touchdown. We would think that video evidence would overturn this, but they didn’t. The call on the field stood, the clock expired, and the game was over. Tulane was so close to getting to a bowl game, but fell just short. Decide for yourself in the poll, but I think the AAC officials really showed how poor they have done officiating this weekend.
What this means for each team
Tulane: This was a season where I think they overachieved. Willie Fritz has this program trending up and should have some momentum going into the offseason. This team had plenty of chances to go bowling, and just couldn’t do it. This is a bittersweet moment for Tulane fans. This team is much improved and will continue to improve in a tough west division.
SMU: This team ended an ugly losing streak that should’ve continued. I have been super disappointed in their play as of late. The offense has continued to do it’s job, but the defense cannot hold up their end of the bargain. The Frisco Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl appear to be the likely destination for the Mustangs. At Underdog Dynasty, we had them going to the Hawaii Bowl to face Wyoming (7-5 who just lost to San Jose State) last week. We will have to see if this match up stays to see if this team can win their first bowl game since the 2012 Hawaii Bowl win. Enjoy postseason play SMU!
Do you believe Banks rush warranted a touchdown?
This poll is closed
Yes. Officials and video replay screwed up.
No. The call on the field should stand.