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Hawaii Bowl

SMU vs. Nevada

12/24/09

In terms of location, it doesn't get much better than playing in the Hawaii Bowl. The Southern Methodist University Mustangs will be taking on the Nevada Wolfpack in this year's renewal of the game. SMU will be playing in a Bowl game for the first time since 1984 when they beat Notre Dame.

Following that win they were placed on probation for recruiting violations and the program had to cancel a season. It has been bleak since then, but the Mustangs are the most improved team in the NCAA going from 1-11 in 2008 to 7-5 this year. Nevada finished the year 8-4 and has the top rushing offense in the entire country. They are the first team in NCAA to have 3 1,000+ rushers in the same year. Their pistol formation is very deadly. This game will be an exciting one not only to watch but to wager on.

SMU finished the year 7-5, but they have only one true quality win. That came over Skip Holtz squad at East Carolina. The Mustangs won 28-21 after dropping their previous two games. SMU also played TCU and Houston but they were soundly defeated by both teams. It's hard to gauge how good they are by looking at the teams they beat. They have 6 wins over truly bad teams, but did take down a good team in the East Carolina Pirates. They finished the year strong winning 4 of 5 games. The lone loss in that stretch was a close game on the road against the Marshall Thundering Herd.

The running attack for SMU is led by Shawnbrey McNeal. The junior has picked up 1125 yards on the ground and 9 TDs this year. Bo Levi Johnson is the QB for the Mustangs. He has passed for 1725 yards and 12 TDs this year. His best weapons are WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Terrance Wilkinson. They have combined for over 2000 yards and 10 TDs this year. Defense will be a huge part of the game for the Mustangs. If they canít stop the potent offense of Nevada, they wonít last very long. Winning or losing this game will come down to one simple question. Can SMU stop the run? Itís a tough one to answer, but we believe they will struggle.

This year started out very badly for Nevada. They were shut out by Notre Dame 35-0, and then they dropped 2 more games. They were able to get their act together after that, winning 8 straight games before losing to Boise State. The best win of the year for the Wolfpack came against Fresno State. They destroyed the Bulldogs 52-14. The offense is clearly fast paced. Nevadaís defense also looks solid. Letís take a look at some of the key players for this team.

The Nevada Wolfpack has played well toward the end of the year. They are averaging 362 rushing yards per game. 2 of the 3 top rushers wonít be playing, so it will be on QB Colin Kaepernick to pick up the slack. The junior is a big guy at 6í 6Ē, and he is a dual threat to throw or run the ball. He passed for 1875 and 19 TDs this year. He has gained 1160 yards and 16 TDs on the ground. It will be up to him to help the Wolfpack off to a quick start. If they are able to make it a 2-3 score game quickly then this game might be over very quickly. He has a great weapon in freshman WR Brandon Wimberly. He has reeled in 5 TDs this year.

Nevada has the more impressive wins. But neither team has played a tough schedule. In fact, if you take a look at strength of schedule, depending on which set of power ratings you use, these teams have played a schedule that is equal in strength. Perhaps favoring Nevada by a couple of points at most. Yet their overall results are very similar. Both teams have offensive yards per point numbers of around 12, which is very good and means they can move the ball. Unfortunately, both teams also have defensive numbers in the same ball park, which means they give up buckets of points.

With that in mind, we have to side with SMU here, because, as we like to say, "the back door is always open". Really, no lead is safe in a game like this. SMU is thrilled to be here and would love to cap of their year with a Bowl game win. This program has come from as far back as a program can come. A win would be fitting. SMU +12.5

Happy Holidays!


 

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