#15 SMU Mustangs at #24 Memphis Tigers: Game Preview

SMU plans to continue their winning ways on Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Zach Walker

Game Info
#15 SMU Mustangs vs #24 Memphis Tigers
Saturday – November 2 – 6:30 p.m.
TV: ABC

Records Before the Game
#15 SMU Mustangs: 8-0; 4-0 in AAC (Last Week: W at Houston Cougars 34-31)
#24 Memphis Tigers: 7-1; 3-1 in AAC (Last Week: W at Tulsa Golden Hurricane 42-41)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball
It was a roller coaster last Thursday down in Houston. The Mustangs started strong, went four to score on their opening drive and got the door shut on them. The game played like a rivalry game. Both teams never getting comfortable, no team going away, down to the wire, exciting football, all with an unbelievable soundtrack of rookie color-man Pat McAfee, who is already an audible delight.

It sucked losing Reggie Roberson early in that game in Houston and if that carries over to the SATURDAY NIGHT game, that’ll be a serious weapon to roll into battle without. I will admit, I thought the Mustangs were trying to keep the Cougars in the game in the second half, it just appeared to me that they were a little too comfortable in hanging the defense out to try and shut a team down. And hats off, in the end, the Mustangs’ defense allowed a field goal and a touchdown (off of a single play drive).
It’s hard to overtly criticize Shane Buechele’s play, he’s been an absolute stud for the team as the bona fide lightning rod leader. I could use more accuracy. Buechele’s game against TCU is the benchmark of completion percentage that makes me comfortable for a quarterback, hovering around 68 percent. And I understand. Once these games get sloppy, informal and the fight to stay afloat is more important, but a completed pass is a throw in the right direction. Memphis isn’t going to be anything close to easy to get through. SMU is a great story for how they’ve gotten to this point, and they’ve earned they’re undefeated status, but Memphis is SUPPOSED to be a ranked team from the American conference, it’s why the Tigers are a six point home favorite in this game. La’Andre Thomas the defensive back, Austin Hall the linebacker, and Joseph Dorceus the defensive lineman are the leaders of their tiers on defense and are excellent and are going to make the game hard as hell for the Mustangs.

When Memphis has the ball
Quarterback Brady White has been excellent for the Tigers this season. White hasn’t dipped under 60 percent completion in a single game this season, he’s got a massively healthy touchdown to interception ratio (20-4). He’s a lot like Buechele, but perhaps less mobile. Freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell has a beautiful name for a running back, has been a monster. Six straight games of one hundred yards, and in last week’s game against the scary Tulsa team, 150 yards and three touchdowns, but the week before, against Tulane just wow. 104 yards and a ground score, but nine catches for 203 yards and a pair of scores. Gainwell is a stud, in a pretty long line of darn good running backs coming from Memphis.
The Mustangs defense was tasked with shutting the Houston Cougars down in the second half, and minus one play with some bad spacing and worse angles taken, they got the job done pretty well. Houston is still mega-dangerous on offense. The Mustangs’ defensive line was fawned over in the game against Houston, and really for good reason. It seems like every dressed defensive lineman has put hands on a quarterback for a fraction of a sack. Led by Demerick Gary and Delontae Scott, the line is going to have to get the pocket-passer Brady White shuffling in directions that he doesn’t want to go, though he’s only taken twelve sacks this season. Richard McBryde and Patrick Nelson limiting Gainwell to ‘gain-lows’ will be big.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Remanufacture that thought process going into the TCU game. Road underdogs, except this time, there is something to lose, but this is a one game a week world, and it’s all about winning the game in front and not worry about the tomorrow’s noise. Go, shock, get back home. That’s the play. Buechele and Xavier Jones are going to have to lead a team to victory.

Prediction
Until it happens, I won’t bet against this team.

Final Score
SMU – 38
Memphis – 35