Date: Saturday September 30, 2017
Kickoff Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Line: SMU -19
Series Record: SMU leads 3-0
Last Meeting: SMU won 27-20, December 6, 2014 (SMU’s only win of the year)
There is no sugar-coating this. SMU should easily be 1-0 in conference play after Saturday. But as we know, games are not won on paper. SMU must prove that if they are to be a contender for a conference championship, it must start with a victory over UConn. Here is a deeper look at the two teams, and of course, a final prediction.
Last week, UConn dropped to 1-2 after losing to a team we rip on here at UDD, the East Carolina Pirates.
On the offensive side, UConn finally found some kind of offense. Putting up 38 points, no matter the opponent that is an encouraging sign. Bryant Shirreffs compiled a stat line of 24/39 for 406 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. This went for a subpar QBR of 64.8. The running game was solid, racking up 190 yards. The Huskies continue to use many tail backs including veteran leader Arkeel Newsome and freshman leader Nate Hopkins. Although ECU’s defense is not very good, it isn’t a good time for SMU to face a potential offense that may be clicking.
UConn, a team who usually is stout in their defense, got picked apart by ECU quarterback Thomas Sirk. Sirk complied stats of 30/39 for 426 yards and three touchdowns for a QBR of 90.6. UConn could not stop the run either, allowing 170 yards with plenty of backs getting the job done. As Aman Kidwai said in our Q&A, this Huskies defense is bad. The secondary is not doing well, thus giving the Mustangs a chance to light up the scoreboard.
Last week, SMU continued to their solid start to the season by defeating a solid Sun Belt team at home in Arkansas State.
Offensively, everything seemed to click. Ben Hicks has continued to find other receivers not named Cortland Sutton. Hicks still struggled with completion percentage finishing 16/32 for 266 yards, and two touchdowns for a QBR of 68.7. Hicks continued to make his big time throws deep, and keeping his receivers happy. Each one of Hicks’ prime targets finished with an average of at least 10 yards per catch. The real story line was SMU running wild over ASU. The running backs were led by Xavier Jones, but the stable of backs compiled 314 yards of offense and scoring four times.
Even the defense showed up in Dallas last Saturday. First, holding a team contending for a Sun Belt Championship to 21 points is outstanding. They limited a great veteran quarterback in Justice Hansen, and pressured him throughout the night. The defense racked up three sacks, five tackles for loss, and five hurries. I have gone on record saying the defense has been mediocre, but the performance against ASU is encouraging. I’m still not fully a believer, but they at least made a statement that they can play good defense.
UConn will be looking forward to the basketball season after this game. I think it’ll be blowout as I think UConn has essentially lost their season after a disappointing loss to ECU.
SMU’s offense will continue to shine, and Ben Hicks will have a career day against a very poor pass defense. I expect SMU’s defense to have a similar performance to last week, if not better. This is a perfect warm up before the rivalry game with Houston.
SMU 45, UConn 17