Game Preview: SMU vs. Tulsa

SMU will host Tulsa in a pivotal Conference USA match on Saturday morning. Can the Ponies become bowl eligible? Come inside for the full breakdown!

What To Watch On Offense From SMU

Tough Sledding. SMU has to be able to run the ball effectively with Zach Line to keep the Tulsa rushing attack on the sidelines, but Tulsa ranks 15th in the country in rushing defense, allowing 113 yards per game. SMU's offensive line has to get push on the Tulsa front seven to get running room for Zach Line. Line and the rest of the Mustangs seniors are looking to get back to a bowl game for the fourth time in their SMU careers and to do that they will need a big game from Line, but also Garrett Gilbert.

Tulsa ranks 79th in the country in pass defense, but Gilbert has not made many plays this season to suggest that SMU will have an overwhelming amount of success against the Hurricane. To have any hope of putting together a good offensive day, it will start with Line and establishing a ground game.

What To Watch On Offense From Tulsa

The rushing attack. Tulsa has two backs in Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts who have over 750 yards rushing each and are averaging over six yards per carry as well. The Hurricanes also have 260-pound running back Alex Singleton, who has over 600 yards and 18 touchdowns. This talented group will be tough enough for the Mustangs to handle, but the Mustangs must figure out a way to shutdown Tulsa's rushing attack if the team expects to stay in the game.

Tulsa quarterback Cody Green isn't going to wow anyone, completing just under 55 percent of his passes and a 13 to 8 TD to INT ratio. If the Mustangs can force the Hurricane to pass, this offense will become one-dimensional and the Mustangs have a real shot at spoiling Tulsa's undefeated conference record.

What To Watch On Defense From SMU

The secondary. SMU has struggled all season in the secondary and gave up plenty of big plays to Rice this past weekend, but against Tulsa, SMU must shut down the running game to force the Hurricane to pass first. SMU allowed Rice to stay on the field for over 35 minutes last weekend and while some players have said time of possession does not affect the defense, it has to have some sort of mindset when the defense is on the field so much. Tulsa comes in averaging over 240 yards rushing and has plenty of backs to rotate in and keep the pressure on defenses.

SMU will be without senior linebacker Cameron Rogers who was injured in the game against Rice and he will be missed, but Randall Joyner and Kevin Pope will provide very capable backups that can step in and try and contain this Tulsa rushing attack.

What To Watch On Defense From Tulsa

DeAundre Brown. The senior linebacker for the Hurricane has 112 tackles on the season, 41 more than the next player on the roster, 16.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks on the year. Brown leads the Hurricane in all of those categories and is the biggest playmaker on the Tulsa defense. If SMU cannot contain Brown, he may single handedly shut down the Mustangs attack. Brown is a game changer, but Tulsa also has Dexter McCoil in the defensive backfield who has four interceptions on the year for Gilbert to watch out for. Tulsa is giving up just over 20 points a game and the Mustangs will have to work to exploit this tough defense on Saturday.

Key To The Game

Stopping the run and running the ball. If SMU can limit Tulsa's rushing attack and allow Zach Line to have holes to run through, SMU will be in good shape.

Prediction: SMU wins, 17-14

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