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Preview: Southern Methodist at Houston
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, October 8, 2015
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas
The game plan likely will be the same for both defenses when SMU visits undefeated Houston on Thursday. The offenses of these in-state American Athletic Conference rivals revolve around dual-threat quarterbacks – SMU’s Matt Davis and Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr.
“We have to stop the quarterback,” Houston first-year coach Tom Herman told the media Monday. “We have to get pressure on him because he is a good-enough thrower (that) if you let him stand back there, (he can) beat you with his arm. We have to contain him.” Davis leads the Mustangs with 380 yards and six touchdowns, and hasn’t thrown an interception in 123 passing attempts. Ward has been more impressive and is gaining national attention after rushing for three scores last week. Ward is the only player in the nation averaging more than 200 passing yards (264.5) and 100 rushing (118) and is ranked fifth in the country in total offense.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Houston -25
ABOUT SMU (1-4, 0-1 AAC): Davis (1,182 yards, eight TDs, two interceptions) has several young, talented receivers to which to throw, including Courtland Sutton (21 catches, 450 yards, five TDs). The Mustangs, who have lost three straight after allowing 42 unanswered points to East Carolina, have given up the most sacks in FBS (21). The defense is allowing the most yards in the country (593.4) and is ranked 124th out of 128 teams in scoring defense (44.4).
ABOUT HOUSTON (4-0, 1-0): The Cougars are ranked fourth nationally in total offense (602.5) behind Ward and running back Kenneth Farrow (385 yards, two TDs). Linebacker Steven Taylor leads the AAC with five sacks after recording three against Tulsa. The Cougars, who have won eight of their last nine meetings with SMU, are allowing 23.2 points while recording 13 sacks and 11 turnovers.
1. The Cougars are the only team in the nation ranked in the top 10 in both rushing defense (eighth, 82 yards) and rushing offense (seventh, 382.5).
2. Half of SMU’s 20 TD drives have taken less than two minutes, putting the Mustangs in a tie with Texas Tech (17-of-34) for ninth in the nation.
3. Houston will hold tryouts this week after K Kyle Bullard missed two field goals in Saturday’s win against Tulsa and fell to 5-of-9 on the season.
PREDICTION: Houston 46, SMU 20