By Zach Walker
Saturday – October 5 – 11:00 AM
Gerald Ford Stadium – Dallas
Well, I imagined the TCU game being a little closer than 48-17. And until the fourth quarter, it was a very tight game. It got ridiculous: two picks, one for six, and an onside kick returned for a touchdown. Garrett Gilbert had his first multiple interception game against TCU, and now has five on the season, which isn’t a lot, but match that with only four touchdowns, and you’ve got the reason why the Mustangs are 1-3. When you’re the 11th best team passing the ball, you live and die by your quarterback play and Gilbert has to play stronger. Gilbert has always frustrated me, he has all the ability, on the ground, he has the wheels to keep a defense humble, and through the air, he has a great arm. So when I see him struggling, I just don’t get it.
The Scarlet Knights (sweet name), opened their season with a loss at Fresno State, since then, they haven’t lost. They’ve been crushing the ball with their running back Paul James, who is having a super season, but will likely miss the game with a lower leg injury, so Savon Huggins, hasn’t been more than a change-of-pace back this season, will be forced to start. Beware of the first guy up, who knows what that starting title will do for him. As far as their quarterback, Gary Nova, he threw the ball like a mad man against Fresno State in a duel against Derek Carr, then was very quiet for two games, then threw three touchdowns against Arkansas. He’s thrown three picks and only been sacked eight times, pretty darn effective. And he’s spreading the ball around too. Four of his receivers have 11 or more receptions, they aren’t the Mustangs receiving corps, but that’s good dealing of the ball by Nova.
This is the beginning of conference play for both teams, so here is where SMU has to start winning games. This is where the Mustangs have to start controlling the clock, running the ball effectively, with a balance attack from Prescott Line and K.C. Nemchi, and completing passes downfield to Darius Joseph and Jeremy Johnson. The Mustangs have the weapons on offense to compete, on defense however; they just aren’t getting pressure often enough on opposing quarterbacks to create opportunities, to get turnovers. Kenneth Acker needs some push in the trenches to get the quarterbacks rushing throws and making bad decisions.
Matchup of the Game: Rutgers RB Savon Huggins VS SMU LB Randall Joyner: The Scarlet Knights live on the running game, and Huggins is getting the start and only he could know what’s going to happen, he’s always been the second back and now gets some shine time. Randall Joyner has been very consistent in his tackles, and has averaged 4.5 solo tackles per game. Joyner, Sanders, and Pope are going to be busy trying to shut down the running game.
Prediction: Rutgers 28 – SMU 30: Nova has shown if he has to duel, he can duel, but if you make a team one-dimensional, you’ve got a shot. SMU has been dragged around in the last two road games, maybe coming home gives them the shot in the arm they need to get back in the win column.