The #21 SMU Mustangs (7-0) are off to their best start since 2019 and Thursday night’s beatdown of Tulane (1-6) was just the most recent example of why Sonny Dykes’ squad should seriously be considered as a contender for an AAC title this year.
The Green Wave defense saw a tiny victory on the game’s opening possession when they forced SMU’s 14-play drive that lasted over five minutes to end in a field goal. However, it would be one of the few bright spots for Tulane all evening. Following their initial three points, Tanner Mordecai and the Mustangs offense went on to open up a commanding 31-7 lead by halftime.
Mordecai, who now has a whopping 29 passing touchdowns so far this season, threw for the most yards of any QB this season (427) against Tulane’s battered defense. He is now the fourth quarterback this season to surpass 300 pass yards against the unit and the fifth to toss three touchdowns against them.
His touchdown passes, though, did not come to the expected receivers. While mainstay Danny Green led the Mustangs with 140 receiving yards, it was tight end Tommy McIntyre who hauled in the first touchdown catch of the evening. This, of course, came after Mordecai and teammate Tre Siggers each notched rushing scores.
While SMU thrived at home, Tulane struggled mightily again despite decent quarterback play. Michael Pratt, who exited the game late due to a nasty hit in the fourth quarter, completed 11 of his 22 pass attempts for over 200 yards and three touchdowns of his own.
He connected with freshman receiver Shae Wyatt to get the scoring going for Tulane in the first but, as it turned out, those would be the only points the Wave would notch during the opening half.
Running back Tyjae Spears led the way with 85 yards and a touchdown but the rest of the backs were relatively quiet. Cameron Carroll did manage 80 yards on 16 carries. Tulane’s real issues, though, came on defense.
SMU racked up 612 total offensive yards against a Tulane defensive unit that has now surrendered over 400 such yards against six opponents this year (all losses). The Mustangs converted 50% of their third down tries (7-of-14) and did not turn the ball over at all.
These lopsided numbers all resulted in a resounding 55-26 win for a high-octane SMU squad that’s clicking on all cylinders right now. Mordecai is as sharp as ever and has his offense looking quite unstoppable. Ten different Mustangs players caught a pass on Thursday night while another six got carries on the ground.
To say that SMU is gunning for a berth in the conference championship is not an overstatement at this point. This was their highest point total against an FBS foe this season and their fourth win of at least 20 points.
Willie Fritz’s Green Wave, on the other hand, are left with more questions than answers. The immediate worry is the health of Pratt after the big hit he absorbed in the fourth quarter. Freshman backup Kai Horton came in and, in his limited time, threw an interception on just two attempts. If Pratt has to miss any significant time moving forward, it will almost certainly spell doom to a season that’s already in peril.
As far as the defense goes, something has to change. Giving up over 400 yards through the air and nearly 200 rushing will not win many games and that’s been the case thus far in 2021. Tulane has yet to beat an FBS opponent and things are getting ugly down in New Orleans. A season that began with immense hope is now falling apart thanks to spotty defensive play. Tulane must win out to be bowl eligible, a task that will be none too easy with their remaining schedule.
Up Next: SMU will hit the road next weekend to play another red hot team in the Houston Cougars. Kickoff in Houston is set for 6:00 PM CT on Saturday, October 30.
Tulane returns home to welcome the #2 Cincinnati Bearcats into Yulman Stadium on October 30. Kickoff is slated for 11:00 AM CT.