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#15 SMU Mustangs at #24 Memphis Tigers: Preview & Prediction

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AAC West supremacy is up for grabs this Saturday in Memphis

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 24 SMU at Houston
SMU heads east to face Memphis in a battle for the top of the American Conference West Division
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Date: Saturday, November 2, 2019

Kickoff Time: 7:30 PM EST

Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN

Watch: ABC

All-Time Series: Memphis leads 8-3

Last Meeting: 11/16/18 Memphis 28 - SMU 18

Betting Lines: Memphis -6, O/U 71


Preview

SMU rolls into Memphis this Saturday looking to stay atop the AAC West with what would be an impressive road win against a very good Memphis team. This week’s matchup is the most important game for both Memphis and SMU up to this point in the season. The ESPN College Gameday crew will be in Memphis this week just to add a little more buzz to this huge game in the American this week. Winner of this game will be in the driver seat going forward in the AAC West with only 3 games remaining in the regular season. Though Memphis has one loss to Temple; if the Tigers knock off SMU this week they would go top of the AAC West since Temple is in the AAC East.

For SMU, the Mustangs are looking to continue their impressive season and move ever closer to a conference championship game appearance and maybe even a NY6 bowl bid. It’s wild to think that this game against Memphis could possibly propel them further up the rankings toward the top 10 or potentially knock them out of the conference title race. This game has massive implications for both teams this week. Just think, it’s very possible that assuming both of these teams win out after this week we could have an 11-1 team in the AAC West not even make the conference title game.

SMU escaped Houston last Thursday with a narrow 3 point victory. SMU looked vulnerable against a good Houston team that gave the Mustangs everything they had. Memphis presents a tougher matchup for SMU because of their prolific passing attack.

Memphis QB Brady White is statistically the most efficient QB in the American conference and is currently ranked 17th in the country in passing yards. White leads a very balanced offense for Memphis that is similar to SMU’s in many ways. Memphis relies on the leading rusher in the American Conference, Kenneth Gainwell, for explosive plays week in and week out. Gainwell is currently averaging just over 122 yards per game on the ground. Gainwell is also second on the team in receptions meaning he is the bell cow of the Memphis offense and SMU will see him get the ball all night on Saturday.

The Memphis defense could make it tough on Shane Buechele since they are only allowing 188 yards per game to opposing QBs.

SMU v Houston
SMU Shane Buechele currently ranks 9th in passing yards in FBS
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

SMU QB Shane Buechele is 9th in the country in passing yards meaning Saturday we’re going to likely have a high scoring shootout. Buechele will rely on playmakers Reggie Roberson Jr. and James Proche to move the ball as well as Xavier Jones to have a big day as well. Memphis is allowing 188 yards on the ground to opposing offenses so look for Jones to do well Saturday night. Kylen Granson the SMU TE also had a good game last week at Houston, look for Buechele to involve him as well.

SMU’s secondary must come to play Saturday night if SMU wants to stay undefeated it’s that simple. SMU gave up 407 yards through the air to Houston. If that performance is duplicated this week at Memphis, SMU will lose no question. The SMU front seven will need to create pressure on White but the Mustang front 7 has done that successfully all year. The front seven must contain Gainwell in order for the Mustangs to get stops on defense.

Prediction

The most interesting matchup this week will be how well the SMU linebackers handle Gainwell. He impacts the game rushing and receiving the ball and will be a challenge for the SMU linebacking corps all night.

This game will be high scoring and should be a very competitive game decided in the fourth quarter. First to 40 wins.

Score: SMU 42 - Memphis 38