By Zach Walker
Saturday – October 19 – 11:00 AM
Liberty Bowl – Memphis
The Mustangs in their last game, made enough plays to beat Rutgers in overtime. It just turned out Rutgers had “that” much more in them to pull off the victory. Despite the heartbreak, and despite the loss, SMU played a heck of a game. Offensively, anyway. Garrett Gilbert played pretty much lights out football, and completely earned AAC Player of the Week for his heroic performance, in bringing the Mustangs back in the fourth quarter. But he threw to somebody, and the man in the crosshairs was Jeremy Johnson, who had 18 catches and 217 yards. And in the Mustangs’ offense, he has to create to space for himself, and to get 18 catches, you’re doing something right creating space. And of his three touchdowns, his third would borderline poetic. Johnson would take a short pass and drill his way into the end zone, through a Rutgers tackler. It was an amazing sacrificial play by Johnson, which took its toll on Johnson who got nailed on the play, and was winded and worn out after the play, only to come back a play later and make a beautiful catch along the back of the end zone to complete the two point conversion. Defensively, there were ups and downs. Early in the game, they were getting gashed on almost every play. But as the game carried on, the defense seemingly tightened up. And by the fourth quarter, the defense was done surrendering points, and almost done giving up yards, allowing their offense to get the cushion to get back in the game. The Mustangs in the fourth quarter were a great team, and if they could play with that tempo and poise, across a whole game, they could be a very dangerous team.
The Mustangs and the Memphis Tigers are both looking for their first victory in the American Athletic Conference. Memphis is 1-4, but has been kicking butt on defense, especially on limiting yards on the ground. On offense though, if it isn’t on the ground, it’s not particularly dangerous, quarterback Paxton Lynch is completing only 58% of his passes and has only two touchdowns to four interceptions. Brandon Hayes is the Tigers leading back and mix in Marquis Warford and the Tigers can be very potent on the ground.
SMU has beaten Memphis the last two times they have played, and it hasn’t been particularly close, the total score in those two games is 86-13, and Memphis was blanked the meeting before last. And if the Mustangs can shut down the run game and force the Tigers to throw the ball, the result of this game might go like the last two meetings.
Matchup of the Game: SMU LB Randall Joyner vs Memphis RB Brandon Hayes: Like I just mentioned, if the Mustangs can stop the work on the ground, they have a serious advantage. And Joyner had 18 total tackles and was all over the field against Rutgers, and is capable of almost single handedly taking a game over.
Players to watch out for:
Memphis TE Alan Cross, especially in the red zone
Memphis DE Martin Ifedi, he is going to get after Gilbert
Prediction: SMU 38 – Memphis 13; I do believe SMU will slow the run game, I believe they will get two turnovers from the quarterback Lynch, and if the Tigers weren’t at home, I wouldn’t give them the benefit of a touchdown.