Matt Visinsky

Game Preview: SMU Mustangs vs. Memphis Tigers

Scott previews SMU's final game of the year against Memphis.

WHEN: Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. CT
WHERE: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium- Memphis, TN
TV: ESPNews/WatchESPN
SERIES: Memphis leads 4-3
LAST MEETING: SMU lost 48-10

PONY TRENDS

The Mustangs finally got that elusive second win of the season, doubling their total from 2014.  This young team sent the seniors out with a win for their final home game, and now they’ll look to finish the 2015 season on a two-game win streak.  While SMU wasn’t playing a very tough team in Tulane, they still showed up and took care of business.  Matt Davis regained his early season form after completing 17-24 passes and running the ball for 156 yards and touchdown.  The Mustangs will face a Memphis team that has lost three straight games and is coming off of 31-12 pounding at Temple.  The Tigers three losses, however, have been to teams ranked or receiving votes.

OPPONENT STRENGTHS

Memphis does a lot of things well, which isn’t surprising considering their eight wins.  For this team, it starts with Paxton Lynch and the offense.  Lynch, who has thrown 21 touchdowns, averages over 300 yards a game, but actually struggled against Temple racking up just 156 yards.  Lynch can run some as well, but sophomore Doroland Dorceus is the main rusher for the Tigers.  Dorceus’ production has tailed off towards the end of the season, averaging just 32 yards a game over the past six games.   The Tigers also have an offensive line that has surrendered just 15 sacks on the season.  Defensively, defensive back Reggis Ball is a big reason the Tigers give up just 128 yards a game in the air.  In the front seven, Memphis doesn’t have any exceptional talent, but Genard Avery (6.5 TFLs) and Wynton McManis (3 sacks) are two reasons the Tigers do a good job of limiting big plays.  

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Paxton Lynch vs. the SMU defense: Lynch is the key to the Tigers’ success, so this game will start and ends with the Mustangs’ ability—or inability—to slow down the quarterback.  SMU will need to generate some pressure to make Lynch uneasy, but that’s easier said then done against a polished Memphis offensive line.  

KEYS TO THE GAME

Just like last week, this game falls on the shoulders of the SMU defense.  The Mustangs did a good job of pressuring the quarterback and getting push up front against Tulane, and those will be important while facing a much better passer in Lynch.  The Tigers have struggled to run the ball as of late, but that’s something SMU cannot forget to account for.  Lynch moves well and can run some, so containing the junior will be important as well.  The Mustangs’ biggest challenge, however, will be containing the Memphis passing game, which consistently puts up over 300 yards a game.  For the Mustangs offense, it’s once again starts up front with the offensive line.  The guys in the trenches will have to match the physicality of guys like Avery, McManis and Ball.  SMU also had a nice balance to their offense last week—rushing for 323 yards and passing for 195 as a team—which will be important again.  

WATCH TO WATCH FOR

When Memphis is on Offense: A big reason the Tigers lost to Temple was because the Owls limited Lynch.  Lynch is the key to the Tigers’ offense, so if the Mustangs can get after the quarterback, they’ll have a shot at handing the Tigers their fourth straight loss.

When Memphis is on Defense: This defense has a lot of playmakers that all do a solid job of getting after the quarterback.  If the Tigers can disrupt Matt Davis and the flow of SMU’s offense, it could be a long night for the Mustangs.

When SMU is on Offense: SMU’s offensive line stepped up big time against Tulane.  The big guys up front didn’t give up a sack, which led to 49 points and a successful day for Matt Davis.  That unit needs to be just as good this week if the Ponies want to walk away with the win.

When SMU is on Defense: If the Mustangs want to pull up the upset in their final game, they’ll have to do what they did against Tulane: rush the quarterback effectively.  SMU’s defensive front provided solid pressure, and that’s what need to happen again if SMU wants to limit this Memphis offense that’s averaging 40 points a game. 

PONY STAMPEDE STAFF PREDICTIONS
Billy: SMU wins 43-35
Scott: Memphis wins 42-31
Hatts: Memphis wins 42-17
Demo: Memphis wins 45-21
Patrick: Memphis wins 45-24
Matt: Memphis wins 48-20


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