By Zach Walker
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs #SMU Mustangs
Saturday – October 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas, TX
Records Before the Game
#24 SMU Mustangs: 5-0; 1-0 in AAC (Last Week: W at USF 48-21)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: 2-2; 0-0 in AAC (Last Week: Idle Week – No Game)
Who’s got the advantage?
When #24 SMU has the ball: To be completely transparent, I never assumed that I’d ever place a rank in front of SMU (especially seeing as I wasn’t even a concept in 1986 the last time the Mustangs were ranked). The Mustangs knew the stakes when they flew into Tampa a week ago, win and win convincingly, and there could be a ranking. Let’s start with that James Proche catch. Just such a monster catch from a player who is capable of those catches on the regular. The Mustangs had a 34 point lead at halftime and were able to make the game exceptionally uncomfortable for Bulls quarterback Jordan McCloud in the first half, and Rodney Clemons made him second guess every throw after taking away a pair of throws. Shane Buechele really had it dialed in in the first half, and the Mustangs were able to run the game out with Xavier Jones. The Golden Hurricane is going to have to attempt to pick-their-poison in stopping the Mustangs. If they sell out to stop the run and Xavier Jones, then Buechele can carve them up on the back end. If they drop eight to max-cover, then Buechele will have lanes and the Mustangs will start to run plays to take advantage of the open field.
When Tulsa has the ball: Tulsa has had a difficult open to their season, they’ve beaten a decent Wyoming team and San Jose State. They opened up their season at Michigan State and lost at home against Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. So, this Tulsa team has been beaten by strong teams. The Golden Hurricane is being led by Baylor transfer Zach Smith, who has had some decent games this season and has been balanced by a strong commitment to the run with Shamari Brooks. Brooks has had some games in this young season, he’s had twenty-nine carries in two games and in the Wyoming game had a seventeen carry game to take some time away and get Smith’s arm a rest after he threw 50 passes. The Mustangs’ front was ON against the Bulls, with defensive linemen racking up seven sacks with six different players with Toby Ndukwe picking up a pair. Richard McBryde had a strong game from the middle linebacker spot (as he has all season) and is going to need to be active to lock down the Golden Hurricane’s run game.
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
If the Mustangs’ defensive front can stay as aggressive and active as they were in Tampa, they’ll generate those same types of mistakes. They’ll have to stop the Golden Hurricane run game.