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SMU vs. Michigan: Preview and Prediction

The Mustangs will play their second consecutive top 25 team.

TCU v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Date: Saturday, September 15th

Kickoff Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV: Big Ten Network

Betting Line: Michigan -35.5, FPI: 98.7%

Series Record: Michigan leads series 1-0

Last Meeting: Michigan won 27-16, September 28th, 1963


SMU can turn their whole season around, but it has to start right now. A win against a ranked Michigan team would propel the Mustangs back into the conversation of a sleeper team in the AAC.

Last Week

We all saw the embarrassing performance last Friday from SMU. Although it was raining cats and dogs, the performance was bad nonetheless. SMU could not get their offense kick started at all. Ben Hicks continued to look absolutely lost in this Sonny Dykes offense. He appears to be even less accurate than last year. Additionally, no real receivers have stepped up to fill in the shoes of Courtland Sutton or Trey Quinn. James Proche has been the receiver we expected, but no one else is helping the struggling Hicks. We also have seen the emergence of Braeden West as the perfect all-around back for SMU. He has been successful running the ball and has been a factor in the passing game.

On the defensive side, last week, I made my opinion pretty clear that the SMU defense was not actually that bad. No, SMU does not have a great defense, but I felt that they had multiple opportunities to win the game against a highly rated opponent. SMU was only down 2 at the half and the defense actually dominated TCU early on.

This Week’s Opponent

SMU’s front-loaded schedule continues as they face an extremely tough team in number 19 Michigan. If you missed my interview with Josh LaFond, click here for a more in-depth analysis of Michigan.

Overall, this team is scary. They have a QB that is an NFL caliber player in Shea Patterson, along with dynamic receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones. This offense was extremely explosive last week when they beat down Western Michigan. I have the same kind of feeling for this game, as I think Michigan will capitalize on SMU’s lackluster defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Rashan Gary is an absolute beast. He is the Ed Oliver of the Big Ten and will most likely stall the Mustangs’ ground game. Ben Hicks has not looked like the Hicks from last year. For that reason, SMU’s best chance will be to run and pass to the outside to rely on the athleticism of guys like Braeden West and James Proche.

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Hicks needs to figure out this offense. If SMU can get their fearless leader back on track, SMU may have a chance.
  2. The defense needs to do what they did last week. I felt SMU had multiple opportunities to put pressure on the TCU offense and potentially win the game, just because the defense played a great half. We need to see that out of this defense for any hope.
  3. Pound the rock early and often. I know that SMU is trying to gear towards the passing game, but let’s see some tosses or off tackle runs.

Prediction

After watching the first two games of the season, any hope I had for this team upsetting one of their first four games is out the window. If you looked at my Q&A with Josh LaFond at Maize N Brew, I think SMU has no chance. Playing a top 25 team on the road is a tall task for a really good team. Give me Michigan big. 42-10