NCAAF Thursday preview: SMU vs. Houston

Ashley Anderson

October 23rd, 2019

-14 (-106)
O 65.5 (-109)
+14 (-114)
U 65.5 (-111)
The undefeated SMU Mustangs are ranked 16th in the nation for the first time since 1985 and get a prime-time matchup against AAC rival Houston to showcase just how good they are.

In head coach Sonny Dykes’ second year with the Mustangs, SMU is off to a 7-0 start this season, which follows a 5-7 record in 2018. Junior quarterback Shane Buechele, a transfer from Texas, has helped usher SMU to prominence behind 2,122 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. Running back Xavier Jones has also stepped up in his senior season to lead the team in rushing, with 751 yards and 12 TDs on 143 carries.
Upperclassmen Reggie Roberson Jr. and James Proche have combined for 1,404 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, while tight end Kylen Granson has piled on 279 yards on just 16 catches.

The Mustangs average 521.1 yards per game (sixth in college football) and are winning by an average margin of 17 points. Last weekend SMU defeated a then one-loss Temple team 45-21. The Mustangs also own a three-point win over TCU on the road, back when the Horned Frogs were ranked in the Top 25.

Cougars unraveled after disappointing start

Houston, on the other hand, has struggled in Dana Holgorsen’s first season as head coach. The 3-4 Cougars have faced stiffer competition and lost to No. 4 Oklahoma in Week 1, No. 20 Washington State in Week 3 and No. 25 Cincinnati on October 12. Houston’s fourth loss came on the road at Tulane, in a 38-31 thriller that nearly went to overtime.

Dual-threat quarterback D’Eriq King and receiver Keith Corbin made use of the NCAA’s four-game redshirt rule following Houston’s underwhelming start and have opted to wait until next season to use up their senior eligibility. Sophomore Clayton Tune has taken the reigns at QB and is completing 53.2% of his passes, with a 1-1 touchdown-interception ratio.

In last weekend’s game against Connecticut, Holgorsen’s son, Logan, earned the start, as Tune dealt with a hamstring injury. Logan completed 7 of his 15 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Houston edged out the Huskies in a 24-17 victory.

Houston’s defense is allowing 495.7 yards per game (eighth worst in FBS) and gives up the ninth-most passing yards (308.5). SMU is 24th in the nation in opponent rushing yards per contest (118.6) and permits an average of 251.4 yards through the air.

The home team is 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two programs, and the Under is 5-1 in the last six games in Houston.

SMU is 1-4 ATS in its last five in Houston, but the Mustangs are 6-1 ATS in their last seven overall and 5-1 ATS in their last six following a straight-up win.

Picks: SMU -14, Under 65.5

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