1. First off, SMU played its best game of the season as it beat Pitt in the Compass Bowl, 28-6. It was complete football with all the fixings: running (when it mattered of course, as SMU had three rushing touchdowns), passing (J.J. McDermott went 16 of 25 for 240 yards, a touchdown and didn't throw a single interception for the first time in four games) and the defense forced two turnovers (huge, considering the Mustangs rank dead last among FBS schools with a minus-17 turnover margin).
2. The first quarter pretty much sums everything up. SMU scored 21 points in the first 15 minutes, the second-highest for a quarter in a bowl game for the Mustangs (22 in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma in the 1968 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl), and Pitt couldn't overcome the deficit.
3. The defense came out on fire right from the start. On Pitt's first possession, defensive end Taylor Thompson sacked quarterback Tino Sunseri. The Mustangs defense finished with seven sacks on the day—two came from Thompson and four came from Margus Hunt, who gave Sunseri headaches (literally) all day.
The defense was tight on third down, holding Pitt to convert just 6 of 17 tries, and the Panthers only mustered seven rushing yards. Seven. And 207 total yards.
"The defense really bought into what we were doing," Jones said after the game.
Pitt crept into the red zone four times and only had two field goals to show for itself.
4. SMU forced two turnovers, halting potential momentum swinging plays for Pitt. The first came in the first quarter when Ja'Gared David pressured Sunseri, forcing him to fumble. Taylor Reed recovered and SMU went on to score on the ensuing drive and take a 21-0 lead.
The second came in the second quarter. Defensive backs Justin Sorrell and Richard Crawford pressured Isaac Bennett on the goal line as a pass from Sunseri hit the running back's helmet and true freshman linebacker Stephon Sanders inadvertently intercepted the ball.
Pitt had some other bad luck that came in favor of the Mustangs as well, including an "inadvertent whistle" call on an onside kick and a fake punt for a first down was negated due to a false start. Sorrell also blocked a Pitt punt late in the game when the score was already out of the Panthers' reach.
5. Darius Johnson had seven acrobatic receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, earning him MVP honors (he was also the MVP in last year's Armed Forces Bowl).
Johnson finished the year with 76 catches for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns and had six 100-yard-plus receiving games. SMU should be thankful he's just a junior and will be back next season.
-Running back Jared Williams broke his left femur after being tackled by Pitt safety Andrew Taglianetti, who was just distraught after the hit. Williams was rushed to a nearby hospital. The true freshman had 42 carries for 180 yards and a touchdown this season.
-SMU proved it can compete – and win – in the Big East.
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