After last week’s disheartening loss to Houston, Tulane undoubtedly wanted to start fast against SMU and that’s exactly what they did. After an opening three-and-out, the Green Wave caught a break when Mustangs return man T.Q. Jackson fumbled and gave up the ball deep in SMU territory. Four plays later, the freshman quarterback connected with grad-transfer receiver Mykel Jones for a beautiful 31-yard touchdown.
Pratt, who was making only the second start of his young career on Friday night, put up another solid performance for the Wave. He finished with 192 yards and a touchdown (plus a pretty wild 3rd and 39 bomb to receiver Deuce Watts late in the game). For all Pratt did well, though, he still has a ways to go. His lone interception proved to be very costly in overtime.
After their initial success, Tulane’s offense went stagnant until midway through the second quarter when Pratt pushed his way in from a yard out to swing the lead back to the Greenies side 14-10. SMU added a touchdown of their own when Ulyssess Bently found the chalk. Green Wave kicker Merek Glover tacked on a field goal and at halftime things were knotted up at 17 all.
Much like they had in the beginning of the game, Tulane came out of the gates hot in the second half. The offense drove 49 yards in six plays and regained the lead again when Stephon Huderson scampered in for a 22-yard score. Now up by seven things were feeling good for Wave at home.
That was until the Mustangs went on to score 10 unanswered points and jump out in front by three. Bentley found the end zone again and kicker Chris Naggar drilled a 33-yard field goal. Undefeated SMU was not going to go down quietly but neither was Tulane. The AAC was providing viewers with yet another see-saw affair.
The two teams traded touchdowns once more before Glover connected on a 27-yard field goal with just 1:30 remaining to tie it 34-34. That much time, though, is arguably too much for SMU’s offense who marched 38 yards down the field in seven plays. With just 21 ticks left on the clock Haggar was given the opportunity to win it. His 57-yard field goal attempt missed, much to the delight of Wave fans, and ensured that the game would see overtime.
In overtime, Pratt picked a poor time to record his first career interception. On third and
long he took to the air and had his throw snagged down by Mustang DB Brandon Crossley. On the ensuing possession, Haggar was able to redeem his earlier miss and nailed a 34-yard kick to send SMU to 5-0 on the season.
After such a hopeful start to their season, Tulane is now just 2-3 and, more importantly, 0-3 in AAC play. Willie Fritz has made it clear he wants this team to compete for a conference title but right now that looks like it won’t happen in 2020. The Wave now prepares to hit the road next week and take on UCF.
Tulane hung tough the whole game and truly showed they are a better team than their record suggests. Michael Pratt’s pocket awareness and mobility were both pretty impressive. His stats this game won’t wow you (except for his 2 rushing TDs) but make no mistake he’s a good player, especially for a freshman.
This week should be a wake up call for the SMU defense. Though they did make plays when they needed them most i.e. the late sack from Delano Robinson and the interception in OT from Brandon Crossley, the Mustangs gave up 195 yards rushing and seemingly big pass play after big pass play. SMU will have to tighten up the discipline if they want a competitive game against Cincinnati next week back in Dallas. Things like muffing punts, missed field goals and giving up 3rd and 39’s won’t fly going forward if they want to stay undefeated. The SMU offense missed Reggie Roberson Jr. but the skill players around Shane Buechele showed out with Danny Gray, Rashee Rice and Tyler Page all eclipsing the 100 receiving yards mark.