How it Happened
Neither team was sharp at the start of the game. Cincinnati missed an extra point and committed an offside penalty on a kickoff. SMU had a touchdown called back on fourth down because of a holding penalty on Kris Weeks. The Bearcats’ Jarred Evans was also flagged for taunting in the red zone, forcing them to settle for a field goal.The mistakes kept the game close until SMU unraveled late in the second quarter. The Mustangs had the ball with 4:25 left in the half. Ideally, they milk the clock and score, then get the ball back in the second half with a chance to take the lead. Instead, SMU went three and out, giving the ball to Cincinnati with 3:26 left. The Bearcats scored, then returned a Garrett Krstich fumble 27 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-3, which all but ended the game.
What it means
SMU came into this game with a little momentum and rested off a bye week. But the Mustangs laid flat and played sloppy football on all three phases. The offensive line played its best game of the year, but Garrett Krstich responded with three turnovers. Matt Davis entered in the fourth quarter and did not fare any better, but expect a competition in practice. The secondary, especially Horace Richardson, had a rough game, so expect competition there too.
The Mustangs have another home game next weekend when they take on Memphis. The 3-3 Tigers had a bye on Saturday, but they crushed these same Bearcats on Oct. 4 and played UCLA and Ole Miss closely.
Shakiel Randolph did get burned a couple times, but he had a couple nice pass breakups in his return from injury. He should have a firm grip on one of the starting cornerback spots, but Troy Castle and Trey Washington have gotten extended looks in practice, so they could play more snaps against Memphis.
Player of the Game:
Nate Halverson. While the game was close in the first half, Halverson had four catches for 42 yards. Each of his catches went for first downs. One of them was a screen on which he gained seven hard-fought yards, mostly after contact. Although Halverson did not record a catch in the second half, he played well when the rest of the receivers struggled to catch the ball at times. Play of the game
SMU had first and 10 and a fresh possession with 4:25 left in the second half. The score was 15-3 and SMU could have made it close with at touchdown. But a wide-open Der’rikk Thompson dropped a catchable pass and killed all momentum. SMU went three and out and gave the ball back to the Bearcats, who scored quickly, the scored again on the fumble return.