This is what AAC fans have been waiting for (probably). SMU and Memphis are in a fight for the West division title and the winner of this could easily decide things. Playing at home, the Tigers were -5.5 point favorites with an over/under of 70.5 as of Tuesday.
While this game has big implications, SMU still has to travel to Navy, and Memphis plays Cincinnati in its finale so the division will be undecided after this game. Either way, it’s a huge contest between teams who have a combined one loss.
SMU has been one of the bigger surprises in the country opening the season with an over/under of 6.5 wins, but a lot of that has been because of schedule. Its best wins have been against TCU and Temple, while it hasn’t had an easy time against Tulsa or Houston. Of course, the same could be said about Memphis after it beat Tulsa by one point last week.
All signs lead to a ton of points in this game because neither team has shown much defensively. The Mustangs have allowed most of their yards through the air (270.9 ypg) to go with 27.8 points per game, while the Tigers have been worse against the rush (188.8 ypg), allowing 23 points per game. The point totals aren’t bad, but SMU is allowing 30-plus points to any decent offense and Memphis has been a bit all over.
There isn’t one true advantage in this matchup because both teams will move the ball. Memphis is one of the few teams in the country who is allowing more rushing than passing yards and SMU will lean on that.
Running back Xavier Jones has ran for 100-plus yards in each of the last four games and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry for 14 touchdowns on the season. He’ll likely keep the offense churning while Shane Buechele does the rest, averaging 8.1 yards per attempt for 20 touchdowns with most of his work going to top receivers Reggie Roberson (questionable with leg injury) and James Proche.
The Tigers are a little more balanced, but Brady White should lead the charge against this struggling pass defense. He’s completing 69% of his passes at 10.3 yards per attempt for 20 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Overall, this is a run-first offense, but it’d be wise for them to attack SMU through the air. Either way, running back Kenneth Gainwell should still have plenty of success as he’s averaging 7.1 yards per carry for 11 touchdowns. Even in the loss to Temple, he ran for more than 5.5 yards per carry.
In an expected high-scoring game like this, it only makes sense to take the underdog, especially with the spread over a field goal. Neither of these teams should have trouble scoring and it should also be close the entire way.
Memphis has had the edge in this matchup in recent seasons, yet SMU hasn’t been this good in some time so expecting SMU to score just 18 points like it did last year is a stretch.
The over is 7-1 in SMU’s last eight games overall and 6-0 in the last six conference games for Memphis. The Tigers have covered the last five meetings between these schools, but the road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10.
Our Pick – SMU +6