Date: Saturday, October 3rd
Time: 2:30pm CT
How to watch: ESPN 2
Line: Memphis -2.5
If it seems like you haven’t heard about Memphis in a long time, it’s because you haven’t. The Tigers, like many other teams, continue to battle COVID-19. and it’s forced them to cancel a few games. After a win over Arkansas State, their second game of the season comes against an SMU team out for revenge from last year. Will Memphis still have rust from the first week? Can they handle the Mustangs explosive offense? We will find out quickly the answers to those questions, and we’ll know early if the Tigers will have a shot to repeat.
Rodrigues Clark emerged as the Kenneth Gainwell replacement against the Red Wolves, running for 105 yards and a touchdown. Kylan Watkins will also contribute at the position. With the Memphis offense struggling to get traction, they turned to Brady White, the seasoned veteran, to take over from there. White had a great game last year against the Mustangs, and showed that he can take over a game in Week 1 when his team needs it most.
Memphis’ defense will have their hands full stopping the SMU offense. Joseph Dorceus and O’Bryan Goodson got things going up front, and they’ll have to find a way to stop Ulysses Bentley IV, who’s on a tear right now. On the back side, TJ Carter and the secondary have their hands full trying to stop Shane Buechele and his speedy receivers. Memphis is a talented team, but the talent they face and the rust they need to shake off make things a little dicey.
You can bet one of the games circled on SMU’s calendar was the Memphis game. Heading into that matchup undefeated, the loss certainly stung and affected the rest of the season. They’ve shown that their out for revenge since struggling against Texas State in their first game. It all starts with the offense.
Shane Buechele once again finds himself in an offense where he just needs to be a facilitator and make big throws when his team needs them. Ulysses Bentley IV is averaging 10.6 yards per carry after two huge outings. Reggie Roberson leads the team in receptions (17), Danny Gray leads the starters in yards per catch (19.5), and Rashee Rice is having a breakout year leadin the team in yards (240). Right when you think you have this team figured out, they reload. They just need some stops from their defense.
If you want one player to watch, linebacker Richard McBryde is your guy. A leader on the defense, McBryde plays the game hard, and he’s already provided a number of big hits on ball carriers. He’ll lead a group that struggled to do anything against the Memphis offense last year, but has a chance to redeem themselves. The verdicts still out on whether they can help their offense, but it’s still early in the season.
It comes down to one thing: SMU’s offense is on a different level than Memphis’ this year. Last year, the roles were reversed, but the Mustangs have played more games and have built chemistry. Memphis is still trying to figure things out, and hoping they can be healthy enough to even play games. The Tigers defense won’t see many new faces on the Mustangs offense, but they’ll see a team with more confidence. We’re hoping for a shootout, and SMU has the experience to come away with a different result than last season.
SMU 56 Memphis 48