By Zach Walker
Saturday – November 9 – 11:00 AM
Nippert Stadium – Cincinnati
The Mustangs are looking to extend their winning streak to three games against the tough Bearcats. And a win would be unbelievably rewarding, it would mean a road victory over a great, conference opponent. And it would also mean jumping in the conference standings with the Bearcats, because if the Mustangs win, they would be 3-1 in conference play, that’s putting the best foot forward in trying to continue the streak of bowl-game appearances alive.
Attempting to keep the Mustangs’ on the up-and-up is Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert was a few rushing yards (3) from being one of only two players in college football history to throw for 500 yards and rush for 100 yards, sure he was only three rush yards short, but he threw for 538 yards, four touchdown passes, and completed 69.8 percent of his 53 throws. His legs were killer as well, rushing eight times for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and wasn’t sacked during the game. But that was two weeks ago, against Temple. And during that game, Traylon Shead was injured, and they got down 28 to 7 early in the second quarter because of some fumbling issues. The Mustangs need to do more of what they did against the Memphis Tigers when they played them on the road, and that means jumping out to an early lead.
Like the Mustangs, the Bearcats beat the Memphis Tigers in Memphis. The Bearcats’ quarterback Brendon Kay was extremely efficient, completing 27 of 35 passes for 321 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and has been extremely effective since stepping in for the injured Munchie Legaux after the loss to Illinois, and has only lost one game since being shoved into the lineup. But the Mustangs are going to have an uphill battle on their hands, as Brendan Kay hasn’t thrown a pick or been sacked while playing at home all season long. And if Kay can start the game, the way that Temple’s freshman quarterback PJ Walker did (completing 16 of 18 and three touchdowns through the first half); the Bearcats will be in a great position to win the game. The Bearcats aren’t to unlike the Mustangs, in that they have strong quarterback play, sprinkled with solid runs when they need them. Neither running back, Ralph Abernathy or Tion Green, has either a huge number of rushes or yards, but are both toting a four yards per carry average, and when the Bearcats have the type of quarterback play that they’ve been getting from Kay, four yards per run is a great average.
But since the second half of the Rutgers game, the Mustangs have shown to be a different team in the second half of games. Against Rutgers, they were able to dredge 28 points, 21 of them in the fourth, to force overtime. Against Memphis, where they had the game comfortably in hand, the Tigers were able to score 26 points in the second half. And last game against Temple, the Mustangs were able to score 45 points in the second half, almost scoring at will. So if the Mustangs are up, they’ll move the ball, milk the clock, and make some second half stops where they need to. And if they’re down, it’s not advisable to count them out, because the Mustangs have proven to have great fortitude. For the Mustangs the equation is simple, keep the Bearcats close, and play YOUR kind of football, strong fourth quarter football. That’s obviously figuring that the Mustangs will be down. Well this is a very good team they are facing, they are only surrendering an average of 18 points per game, and I hope the Mustangs are up for riding in and taking a win away from a good conference opponent, because that’s exactly what they’ll have to do.
Matchup of the Game
Mustangs’ receivers vs Bearcats’ secondary: The Bearcats’ secondary have forced 12 interceptions this season, and the SMU receivers have had a great season of getting themselves open, but if they don’t catch it cleanly, it could mean a big play, Cincinnati’s way.
Prediction: SMU 34 – Cincinnati 31; Late game, fourth quarter play has brought SMU back into games, and they continue as they pull this one out.