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at SMU 40 ... Northwestern State 7
Posted Sep 17, 2011

Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - NW State at SMU

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - NW State at SMU

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Sept. 17 at SMU 40 ... Northwestern State 7
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) DALLAS -- Zach Line ran for a school record five touchdowns to help SMU cruise past Northwestern State 40-7 on Saturday night.

Line ran for a game high 85 yards, including his longest touchdown dash of 16 yards in the third quarter.

The Mustangs (2-1) shut out the Demons (1-2) most of the way, but Northwestern State finally scored with 1:41 left in the game when Phil LeBlanc recovered a fumble and ran it 93 yards for a touchdown.

Chase Hover helped out SMU with a pair of field goals in the second quarter as well as making four of his five extra point tries.

The Mustangs' J.J. McDermott led the game in passing with 278 yards while teammate Kyle Padron added 138.

Northwestern State (1-1) at SMU (1-1) Sept. 17, 8:00

Here’s The Deal … Even after bouncing back from an opening day loss to Texas A&M by beating UTEP, SMU is a program that appears to be on unsure footing. Under new leadership behind center, the offense has been sporadic and the team has generally looked unsure of itself through the first eight quarters of football. Still, this is a Mustangs program with hopes of winning Conference USA West if it can locate a groove during the next two weeks as a heavy favorite.

Northwestern State has lost all 10 of its games versus FBS opponents by an average margin of more than 40 points. The most recent was last Saturday, a 49-3 defeat at the hands of LSU. The Demons of the Southland Conference home were one of the league’s biggest surprises last year, improving from 0-11 in 2009 to 5-6 a season ago.

Why Northwestern State Might Win: Now that a nationally ranked SEC isn’t on the docket, the Demons are determined to play the way they did in the opener against Delta State. Led by QB Brad Henderson, they’ll utilize a high-percentage passing attack designed to extend drives and keep the SMU offense off the field. Northwestern State also houses a diverse set of receivers with which to attack the Mustangs, including Justin Aldredge, T.C. Henry and Phillip Harvey. SMU has not looked crisp against the pass so far, yielding 522 yards through the first two games.

Why SMU Might Win: The Demons have one very talented defensive player, LB Derek Rose, and a bunch of holes that need to be plugged. Much like LSU on Saturday, the Mustangs will endure little resistance to moving the chains and putting up points. Yes, the passing attack has been a disappointment so far, but that’ll just encourage the coaching staff to ride the broad shoulders of RB Zach Line. The junior has broken the 100-yard threshold in both of his games, carrying the offense when it was needed. Northwestern State will need to be aware of the attacking SMU defense, which can disrupt an opposing gameplan with athletes, such as LB Ja’Gared Davis and DE Taylor Thompson.

What To Watch Out For: In an improbable move by SMU head coach June Jones, starting QB Kyle Padron was benched in the opener in favor of backup J.J. McDermott. If McDermott plans to retain that privilege, he’ll need to play better than he did last week versus UTEP. Against a porous defense, the former New Mexico State transfer went 18-of-31 for 244 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. For the run-and-shoot to operate at full speed, the passers need to do a much better job of involving receivers Cole Beasley, Darius Johnson and Terrance Wilkerson in the offense.

What Will Happen: Although the Mustangs are struggling for an identity in the early going, it won’t be evident this weekend. A visit from Northwestern State affords SMU the opportunity to smooth out some of the wrinkles on both sides of the ball. While the quarterbacks will continue to get more comfortable in the pocket, Line will again be the catalyst on offense. He’ll bulldoze his way to a third consecutive 100-yard day, adding a pair of touchdown bursts to help his team pull away.

CFN Prediction: SMU 44 … Northwestern State 17
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