SMU hasn’t lost a game, but can’t look ahead just yet with road trips to Houston, Memphis and Navy still on the schedule.
This game may be a little easier than the others as Houston doesn’t have the same fire power as earlier in the season. The Mustangs opened as -13.5 point road favorites for Thursday’s matchup.
SMU has already hit the over on its projected season win total of six. It’s impressive following last year’s 5-7 record, but outside of the trip to TCU, every game was winnable prior to the season.
Now, the Mustangs are the favorites to win the West division and make it to the AAC title game. It’s been a little different for the Cougars, who were expected to take a step back and then lost quarterback D’Eriq King in the first year under head coach Dana Holgorsen.
They surprised some in the win over North Texas, but since, haven’t done much and they beat lowly UConn by just seven points last week.
The big question for Houston is who will start at quarterback because Clayton Tune missed the UConn win with a hamstring injury. His numbers don’t stand out, but he’s better at running an offense than the coach’s son, Logan Holgorsen.
While Holgorsen led the Cougs to a win, he completed 8-of-18 passes against one of the worst teams in the country. No matter who is at quarterback, they’ll likely lean on the ground game led by running back Kyle Porter, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Option quarterback Bryson Smith will also likely see some time after rushing for 56 yards the last couple games.
The best news for this offense is that SMU is prone to allowing points, giving up 27.3 per game. SMU has allowed at least 17 points in every game, but even if Houston hits that number, its defense still has to do more for a cover.
The Cougars have been worse defensively, allowing a ridiculous 470 yards and 30.7 points per game. They gave up 38 points to Cincinnati last home game and will now face maybe the best offense in the conference.
The Mustangs have rolled every opponent, scoring at least 37 points in every game and at least 43 in all three AAC contests. That’s because of Texas transfer Shane Buechele slinging the ball, completing 8.5 yards per attempt with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He hasn’t had any issues gelling with top wideouts Reggie Roberson and James Proche, who have combined for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns. The other part is running back Xavier Jones, who has at least 100 rushing yards in the last three games and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the season.
This game comes on short rest, which could be an advantage to SMU’s offense, even on the road. Houston’s hope is that the home crowd helps at night and Tune returns at quarterback.
Either way, SMU looks set for another 40-plus points unless Houston’s defense suddenly becomes competent. SMU won this matchup 45-31 last year and that was when Houston still had King at quarterback.
The over has hit in SMU’s last five games following a straight-up win and it’s 7-1 in Houston’s last eight games in conference play. The Cougars are 1-6 ATS in their last seven against a team with a winning record.
The home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these schools, but the Mustangs are 3-1 ATS in the last four with two outright upsets as a double-digit underdog.
Our Pick – SMU -13.5