Week 9 - Memphis at SMU

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Memphis at SMU

Memphis (1-6) at SMU (3-4) Oct. 27, 3:00, TW Texas

Here's The Deal:From one week to the next, there might not be a tougher team to read the tea leaves on than SMU, a real enigma. The Mustangs have been up-and-down all season, as their record indicates. Want proof? Two weeks ago, they became lowly Tulane's first victim. Yet, last Thursday night, they rebounded with a 72-42 obliteration of Houston. The West Division remains in play, but the Ponies are first concerned about winning the six games needed to simply become bowl eligible.

Memphis continues to trudge through its season-long rebuilding plan under rookie head coach Justin Fuente. The Tigers have won just a single game—and may not win again—but the staff sees progress and growth in areas that won't show up in the Conference USA standings. Fuente will spend the next month preparing his team for next season's entry into the Big East.

Why Memphis Might Win: The Tigers defense hasn't been as bad as the numbers appear. For that matter, the Mustangs offense hasn't been nearly as good either. SMU is just 88th nationally in total offense, and last week's 72-point outburst had more to do with a ball-hawking D than anything else. An underrated Memphis line, spearheaded by DE Martin Ifedi and NT Terry Redden will focus all of their attention on SMU RB Zach Line, forcing highly inconsistent QB Garrett Gilbert to beat it.

Why SMU Might Win: Memphis will find it impossible to navigate the frenetic, opportunistic defense of SMU. The Mustangs will give up some points, and certainly has been beatable through the air, but no one in America is getting more game-changing plays form its defense. SMU not only leads the country in takeaways and interceptions, but also with six pick-sixes. The Tigers will wilt in front of the pressure of DE Margus Hunt and LB Taylor Reed, and have their pocket picked by an aggressive collection of linebackers and defensive backs.

What To Watch Out For: SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason and his staff of assistants are doing a great job of teaching their pass defenders to break quickly on balls and secure it like a receiver. Relative unknown players outside of Dallas, like LB Randall Joyner, CB Kenneth Acker and FS Jay Scott, have been the catalysts for the Mustangs' parade of takeaways. Memphis QB Jacob Karam would be wise to dump the ball off to his backs rather than challenge the back seven downfield.

What Will Happen: SMU is a flawed team, but that ability to dominate turnover margin has a way of glossing over other issues. Memphis doesn't have the weapons to expose the Mustangs' issues on the defensive side of the ball. Instead, the Tigers will fall victim to the interceptions and lost fumbles that have felled other SMU opponents this season. With a handful of short-field chances, the Mustangs will cash in with Line plunging into the end zone.

CFN Prediction: SMU 37 … Memphis 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) SMU -20.5 O/U: 49.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 1