The much anticipated question of who the starting quarterback would be was answered. Walk-on true freshman Baker Mayfield got the nod and did not disappoint. Mayfield finished going 28-for-42 for 414 yards and four touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped secure the victory.
Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who got his first win as a head coach, said he expected good things from Mayfield in the game.
"He had practiced like a senior for the last week," he said. "I expected him to play really well. I couldn't be more impressed with how well he handled the operation, handled his teammates. I'm just happy he got to play as well as I thought he would."
Tech (1-0) won the ballgame convincingly, but there were some points that showed concern. Kingsbury said momentum carried onto both sides of the ball.
"It wasn't perfect," Kingsbury said. "Way too many penalties. We weren't very good on third down. They kept fighting, kept believing in each other. When one side would raise up, the other would too."
The offense racked up 461 total yards, but the defense made several stops in the red zone, which helped Tech take a 13-9 lead into the half. The Mustangs (0-1) made their way inside the 20 yard line five times, but only converted three opportunities into points.
Senior linebacker Pete Robertson, who contributed on eight tackles and recorded a sack, said the coaches make work the players real hard on red zone defense in practice.
"We work on red zone every single day in practice," Robertson said. Coach Wiley has us working on it hard. We'll do a red zone period for about 20-30 minutes and when got to a time in the game, we just stood up and do what we had to do."
The first half featured rust from both teams. Both teams struggled to break the goal line, but Tech finally did with one minute and one second remaining in the first half. Mayfield connected with junior wide receiver Jordan Davis on a 33-yard pass for the first touchdown of the Kingsbury era.
The Red Raiders took a 13-9 lead into the half. SMU started the second half with the ball after Tech won a coin toss that was flipped by former President George W. Bush. Tech elected to receive in the first half.
The Mustangs would end up in the end zone only to have it negated on a holding penalty. SMU came up empty handed when kicker Chase Hover missed a 27-yard field goal.
Tech took over and marched down the field on 10 plays in 3:44 ending with junior wide receiver Bradley Marquez receiving a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield.
Marquez said it was a key point in the game when he scored his first touchdown of 2013.
"It feels really great," Marquez said. "Great moment. We needed some momentum at that point in time and (I'm) just glad I could get up there and make a play for us."
SMU would answer with a 23-yard rushing touchdown from senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
Tech would take control in the fourth quarter.
Eric Ward took over the second half with seven catches for 100 yards. Many of those yards came after catches as Mayfield would throw to the sideline and Ward would run up the field.
Ward finished with 13 catches for 150 yards. Tech would score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 41-16 lead. SMU would score one more touchdown and recover an onside kick, but was stopped at the goal line to end the game.
Kingsbury and his defensive players said that the final play is a huge boost heading into next week.
The Red Raiders have won the last 15 meetings with SMU. Tech has not lost to the Mustangs since the NCAA slammed the ponies with the "death penalty".
Kingsbury and his team now turn their focus to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks who they play September 7.
With Mayfield throwing for over 400 yards and scoring five touchdowns, he may have earned himself a scholarship. Kingsbury said internal operations would need to work that out.
"We got to work through those numbers, Kingsbury said. "Obviously, that's something that came up. We didn't envision this when he came on campus, but that's an internal issue."