SMU (2-3) at Tulane (0-5)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (73,208) -- New Orleans,
Louisiana. Television: CSS. Home Record: SMU 1-2, Tulane 0-3 Away Record:
SMU 1-1, Tulane 0-2. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, Tulane 1-0. Conference Record:
SMU 1-0, Tulane 0-1. Series Record: Tulane leads 11-8.
GAME NOTES: It has been over a year since Tulane last posted a victory and
the Green Wave will yet again try to end that streak when the SMU Mustangs
invade the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a Conference USA matchup.
Although not off to a particularly successful start this season, SMU's 2-3
overall record is leaps and bounds ahead of Tulane. The Mustangs are coming
off a 17-0 win against UTEP, which earned the squad its first conference
victory of the season. SMU had lost back-to-back games leading up to that
contest. This will be the first of only two games outside of the state of
Texas for SMU.
The last time Tulane ended up on the winning side of a scoreboard was in
September of 2011 when the Green Wave routed UAB, 49-10. Since that time the
Green Wave have lost 15 straight games, including a 41-13 loss to Louisiana
last time out. The losing streak is the longest active streak in the nation.
Tulane does have the benefit of leading the all-time series. The Green Wave
have won 11 of 19 previous meetings. Last season Tulane fell in a 45-24
decision to the Mustangs.
Although SMU ranks near the middle of the conference in total offense this
season, the Mustangs have been the third worst team in terms of yards per
play, averaging 4.59 yards per snap this season. The Mustangs are ranked
seventh in the conference in scoring (22.4 ppg). That number has been inflated
by a 52-0 win over Stephen F. Austin earlier this season. In the last three
games, the Mustangs have only scored 36 points combined.
Garrett Gilbert is the man under center for SMU. He has not been particularly
effective this season, completing only 49.6 percent of his passes, while
having twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdown passes (five). Conner
Preston is the backup, but has seen limited action with only nine pass
Jeremy Johnson (26 receptions, 265 yards, TD) and Darius Johnson (24
receptions, 235 yards, TD) are the two most targeted receivers on the squad
although neither are averaging more than 10.2 yards per reception. Gehrig
Dieter has only seven receptions but has managed to create more yards on
those catches averaging 19.1 yards per reception.
In the backfield the Mustangs are anchored by Zach Line who has rushed for
427 yards and three touchdowns this season. He has had 100 carries which is
10 times as many as the second-leading rusher, Luke Seeker.
SMU recorded its first shutout of the season in last weekend's win over UTEP
which lifted the Mustangs to the second best scoring defense in the
conference (26.2 ppg) behind UCF. The team's total defensive efforts have
been good for only sixth in the conference (425.0 ypg) although the unit has
been the second best team against the run, surrendering only 681 rushing
yards this season.
Randall Joyner, who was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday,
is the team's leading tackler (41), while also owning team highs in
interceptions (three) and passes defended (six). Taylor Reed has been solid
in pass rushing, collecting five tackles for loss and three sacks.
Tulane is at the bottom of virtually every offensive category not just in
C-USA, but the nation overall. The Green Wave rank last in scoring offense
(9.0 ppg) and total offense (195.0 ypg). The Green Wave have been pathetic on
the ground, managing only 73 yards. The Green Wave are also the only team at
the FBS level that has yet to record 1,000 total yards this season.
Three different players have gotten a shot at quarterback. D.J. Ponder was the
most recent signal caller to get a start. Ponder threw for 173 yards, while
completing just 35.9 percent of his passes with two interceptions in the loss
to Louisiana. Ryan Griffin (67.2 completion percentage, 314 yards, TD, INT)
and Devin Powell (.526, 255 yards, TD, 3 INTs) have also made at least one
It is unfortunate that Tulane has been unable to find consistency under
center with talent on the outside. Ryan Grant has caught 24 passes this season
for 331 yards and Justyn Shackleford has had at least 76 yards receiving in
each of the last two games.
A large part of the Green Wave's rushing woes is the amount of sacks the
offensive line has allowed (16) with each of the three quarterbacks having
negative rushing totals this season. Rob Kelley (143 yards) is the only
player with more than 100 yards rushing.
Tulane is only marginally better defensively on a national scale. The Green
Wave are the fourth worst squad in terms of scoring defense (42.4 ppg) and
the 10th worst squad in total defense (481.4 ypg). The Green Wave are also
allowing teams to convert on third down at far too high a rate (51 percent).
Zach Davis is the leader in most categories, including tackles (37), sacks
(two) and interceptions (one). Austen Jacks is the team's leader in tackles
for loss (5.5).
About the only advantage that Tulane has in this matchup is that it will be
playing on its home turf. SMU has not been stellar this season but the
Mustangs won't need to be against the Green Wave.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 31, Tulane 17
10/10 11:01:04 ET