Start Time: Friday 10/16 5:00 PM CST
Weather: 75 degrees, Clear
Records: SMU 4-0 (1-0 AAC), Tulane 2-2 (0-2 AAC)
Betting Line: SMU -6.5
All-Time Series: Series tied 13-13
Last Meeting: SMU 37, Tulane 20 (November 30, 2019)
After two big losses on the offensive side of the ball against Memphis two weeks ago with Reggie Roberson Jr. and TJ McDaniel suffering season ending injuries, the Mustangs are looking to move to 5-0 on the season against a motivated Tulane team. Shane Buechele is Mr. Consistency and will be looking to have a big day commanding an offense that’s averaging just under 560 total yards per game. The Reggie Roberson Jr. injury is a big loss but SMU has a number of guys that already contribute mightily in WR Danny Gray, WR Rashee Rice, and TE Kylen Granson. All three of these pass catchers have made big plays already this year and will all receive more targets now that Reggie Roberson Jr. is out of the line-up going forward.
The Mustangs will continue to ride Ulysses Bentley IV on the ground. Look for Sophomore RB Tyler Lavine to get a few more touches with TJ McDaniel sidelined for the season.
The SMU defense needs to pressure Tulane QB Michael Pratt who is still very young. SMU may give up yards and points to Tulane but the SMU defense is pretty experienced especially at linebacker. Tulane has put up an impressive 97 points over their last two games. If the SMU front seven can affect the quarterback early and not let him get comfortable the Green Wave will have to play from behind most of the game. Look for the SMU Linebacker duo of Delano Robinson and Richard McBryde to make plays on defense when the Mustangs need them on Friday.
The Green Wave will be looking for their biggest win of Coach Willie Fritz’s five year tenure on Friday against 17th ranked SMU. Coach Fritz said on Wednesday that beating SMU would, “Be the biggest win in the history of Yulman Stadium. No question about that.”
Tulane matches up really well against the Mustangs. On the defensive side of the ball look for junior safety Macon Clark and freshman defensive back Kevaris Hall to jump some routes and stop Sonny Dykes’ high octane air raid attack. Clark and Hall have combined for three interceptions on the year, with Clark securing two picks against Houston last week.
On the offensive end, Michael Pratt should look more comfortable and poised this Friday as the Boca Raton, FL native and true freshman makes his second career start and third career appearance. Pratt has made some really impressive downfield throws and has put on full display his ability to take off and run over his first three collegiate games. If Tulane’s offensive line can finally give him enough time to throw, look for Pratt to overcome what has been his Achilles heel so far this season, accuracy, and to complete over 65% of his passes against the Ponies.
Under Willie Fritz, Tulane has boasted one of the most feared running attacks in the AAC. Last week against Houston, the Wave looked out of sorts on the ground, rushing for only 70 yards on 45 attempts. Expect Will Hall to have ironed out the kinks in Tulane’s ground attack by game time in New Orleans. It would not surprise me if Cameron Carroll and Amare Jones each account for over 100 total yards of offense against SMU. Particularly, look for the Frisco, TX native and junior Jones to be used much more than he has been up to this point in the season. Jones, who was one of Tulane’s top backs in 2019, is most lethal when catching the ball out of the backfield or playing out of the slot.
Crawford: Assuming Sonny Dykes has the Mustangs focused on Tulane and not the 8th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats in two weeks, SMU should win a shootout. This is a classic “beat the teams you’re supposed to beat” game for SMU. The offense will score plenty of points and the defense will make plays when they need to. Tulane is good team but ultimately does not have the firepower on offense to keep up on Friday. SMU 44 TULANE 37
Adam: This is a quintessential trap game for SMU as the Ponies head towards the midpoint of the season. Tulane has punched well below their weight throughout the campaign so far and if it wasn’t for a catastrophic blow up against Navy, would be off to one of their best starts in 20 years. The Wave’s running game should be back to its true form this week and the Greenies will be fired up after blowing a 17 point lead to Houston last week. TULANE 41 SMU 24