Game Preview: SMU vs. Rice

SMU face Rice in a pivotal Conference USA match this afternoon in the Battle for the Mayor's Cup. Come inside for the full breakdown!

What To Watch For On Offense From SMU

A dual threat attack? SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert led the Mustangs in rushing with 94 yards and two touchdowns with running back Zach Line right behind him with over 90 yards as well. Gilbert's ability to tuck the ball and run has become a vital part to the SMU offense the last couple of weeks and as he develops more in the passing game with his accuracy, that could be a scary combination.

Jeremy Johnson continues to impress for the Mustangs as he had 97 yards last week against Southern Miss so look for Johnson, who is becoming Gilbert's favorite target. Austin Fuller will also get his second start at receiver and look for him to bring more physical play as well as increased production as he get more comfortable in the offense.

What To Watch For On Offense From Rice

A dual-threat attack. While SMU's Run N' Shoot has seen more athleticism from its quarterback the past couple weeks, Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue is a true dual-threat for the Owls. He has passed for over 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions in his second season as a starter. Where McHargue has done his damage is on the ground with over 500 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, while running back Charles Ross has just two touchdowns and over 500 yards rushing as well.

Rice has a pretty experienced group running the show on offense, but sophomore Jordan Taylor has led the Owls in receiving with over 500 yards and averaging 13.8 yards per catch but does not have a touchdown this season. Rice will try to use the 6-foot-5 receiver on the outside to make some big plays on the Mustangs secondary.

What To Watch For On Defense From SMU

Margus Hunt. Hunt had a nice game against lowly Southern Miss last weekend with a sack, tackle for loss and an interception. Hunt has to be able to shut down McHargue and the dual0threat that he brings to the game if the SMU defense is going to be able to get the Mustangs the ball back. SMU will also need a big game from the secondary with two receivers that can make some plays for Rice this weekend. SMU's secondary has struggled all season with big plays and if the front seven cannot get pressure then SMU could very well have a tough time stopping the Rice offensive attack.

What To Watch For On Defense From Rice

Improvement. Rice is coming off a bye week after a 49-47 barn burner win over Tulane on Nov. 3, but the defense gave up a 28 points in the third quarter and let the Green Wave back into the game. Rice did dig deep when it needed to stop Tulane on a two-point conversion, but the last game has to be concerning for head coach David Bailiff. Rice didn't get much pressure on Tulane's Ryan Griffin with just two sacks so the Mustangs have to capitalize on the lack of pass rush and get Gilbert going early.

Key To The Game

Running the ball. Whether it's Gilbert or Line, SMU is on the road and will need a big day on the ground to control the clock and keep the crowd out of it.

Prediction: SMU wins, 24-14

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