What to watch on Offense for SMU
A strong ground game. SMU needs to establish a running attack early especially with the high chance of rain predicted for Saturday's game. If June Jones continues to try and get Garrett Gilbert into a groove early like he has done, it will likely mean that Zach Line is going to have trouble getting going as well. How the offense controls the clock will be the key to the game.
Gilbert and his receivers have been little help for the Mustangs on offense so Line will be relied upon to set the tone physically for the Mustangs early. If Line can get going, the Mustangs have a strong chance of keeping the TCU offense off the field.
What to watch on Offense for TCU
Casey Pachall. The TCU signal caller has been impressive so far this season as the most efficient passer in the NCAA with a 209.9 passer rating. Pachall may have trouble with rain, but he is still a physical runner and adds another dimension to the TCU offense with his legs. Pachall was impressive last year against the Mustangs, throwing for over 200 yards and three touchdowns so he has had plenty of success against the Mustangs.
Pachall is one of the best quarterbacks in college football and has an opportunity to showcase his skills along with a great group of receivers. The receivers may provide the toughest task of controlling, as they are explosive and fast. The SMU secondary has had trouble and they may have more trouble if they cannot shut down Pachall early.
What to watch on Defense for SMU
A pass rush. SMU's most important job on defense is getting pressure on Pachall and forcing the TCU offense to be one-dimensional. If Pachall doesn't have time to step up and make big plays, it will force TCU to run the ball more, which is exactly what SMU would rather them do. It is really a game of pick your poison, but if Pachall can't get going then that will help the SMU defense defend this TCU attack.
The secondary has been a weakness all year for SMU so the less TCU throws, the better. The SMU front seven is capable of shutting down TCU but will need the offense to provide clock control to get this done.
What to watch on Defense for TCU
Speed. TCU has speed everywhere on their team and they definitely can cause problems for the SMU offense with their pass rushers and linebackers. Jones called TCU's defense better than it was last year, which may be true since they are giving up just 4.3 points per game, but there were more playmakers on the unit last year.
Linebacker Kenny Cain will lead the way for TCU in the play making department, but one terror that SMU will need to neutralize is defensive end Stansly Maponga. SMU has had trouble stopping a pass rush, but they will definitely need to make that a point if Gilbert will be able to make plays.
Prediction: TCU wins 24-21 behind a big day on both sides rushing the ball
Game Preview: SMU vs. TCU
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