The Mustangs struggled in all phases of their 45-20 loss to Houston. It's the kind of loss -- when things go so wrong in a game that mattered so much -- that raises major angst heading into the final four games of the season.
Instead of taking a dominating 4-0 league lead with the rest of the division carrying two or more losses, SMU is tied with Houston for first at 3-1, but obviously the Cougars hold the head-to-head advantage.
Both teams face difficult tests ahead, so nothing is settled. Houston had lost three of four before the victory and appeared to be struggling with freshman quarterback David Piland, who was forced into action because of injuries.
But the Cougars looked far more the championship contender than SMU.
SMU (4-4 overall) continues to rack up yards (445 to Houston's 397) but stumbles when it's time to find the end zone. Quarterback Kyle Padron threw two interceptions and lost a fumble while being sacked.
The defense had trouble tackling Houston's speedy playmakers and couldn't get enough pressure on an inexperienced quarterback making only his third start.
Special teams continues to struggle fielding punts and committed a major sin when it allowed Tyron Carrier to return a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, right after SMU had cut its deficit to one touchdown in the third quarter.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"We made too many mistakes, dumb penalties. We got outcoached, outplayed. We didn't play well enough to win the game. Everybody has to do a better job. Including me, including players, including everybody," -- Coach June Jones, on the Mustangs' 45-20 loss to Houston.