Five Quick Hits: SMU beats UCF 38-17

J.J. McDermott had a career-night as he led the Mustangs to avenge last year's 17-7 C-USA Championship game loss to UCF by beating the Knights in a crucial home game.

Longer story to come tomorrow:

1. Well, SMU avenged last year's 17-7 Conference-USA title loss to UCF by beating the defending champs 38-17.

Head coach June Jones said that he didn't talk up that game much this week, but his players did.

"I didn't say anything about it, but I know the kids talked about it," he said. "I knew that this was a good team and I know that what we were going to have to do is get them off of the field running the football and then we were going to have to pass efficiently to have a chance to win, and we executed the game plan."

"This win is sweet because they beat us in the conference championship and two years in a row before that," said receiver Cole Beasley.

2. Speaking of Beasley, today was his first game back since Memphis, the game he sprained some tissue in his knee. In his comeback, he led both teams with 10 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.

"That's what we expected out of him," quarterback J.J. McDermott said. "I know he felt like he wasn't at full speed, but you know, he still played great, still quick as ever, knows how to run routes and get open."

Beasley got dinged up a little at the end of the game, but said it's nothing compared to the way he felt after Memphis.

3. Cornerback Richard Crawford set the tone early for SMU, returning a punt off UCF's first series for 47 yards, setting up a Zach Line 11-yard touchdown run two plays later. Crawford returned another punt in the second quarter for a 92-yard touchdown, which tied the longest punt in school history, and is the second longest in C-USA history.

"He's a gifted punt returner," Jones said.

All season, with the exception of the TCU game since he was out with an injury, Beasley had been returning most of the Mustangs' punts. But I think Crawford earned the job today.

4. UCF boasts the best rushing defense in the conference and did a good job clogging the run in last year's game. Jones said he knew that in order to win, they had to throw the ball.

"We knew they were going to be geared up to stop Zach," he said.

Line, who's averaging 116.6 rushing yards per game this season, had a season low 82 yards, but scored two touchdowns.

UCF has the nation's No. 1 passing defense, but McDermott was able to exploit it for a personal-best 358 yards and two touchdowns, the longest of which was a 72-yarder to Der'rikk Thompson in the fourth quarter.

5. SMU was 3-of-9 on third down conversions. Most of those were third-and-short. That is an area the offense must improve upon before heading into the next two away games against Southern Miss and Tulsa.

"That's really uncharacteristic of us," McDermott said. "We all felt those were first downs we normally get. I made a bad throw on one and I remember being frustrated on not being able to convert on third-and-very manageable."

Extra Point:

The Mustangs are now 5-1, just one game from becoming bowl eligible for the third year in a row. McDermott is 5-0 as a starter and looks like he's really getting a feel for the scheme and is building solid chemistry with his teammates.

"J.J. sees the field well and I'm happy with what he did today," Jones said. "That last [34-yard] completion down to Terrance [Wilkerson]…we talk about that all the time and that's the type of thing that's big for a quarterback. He sees it every day. He's seeing it and doing a good job."

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