Week 13 – Tulsa at SMU

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Tulsa at SMU

Tulsa (9-2) at SMU (5-6) Nov. 24, 12:00, FX

Here's The Deal: Tulsa has earned a rare luxury—a week to prepare for a league championship without having to win a game.

Golden Hurricane coach Bill Blankenship can be choosy how he uses his players since they wrapped up the West Division of Conference USA with last week's crucial win over UCF. Tulsa can use its trip to Dallas as a tune-up, keeping the starters sharp and healthy at the same time. It'll host the title bout next week, likely against the Knights, though East Carolina remains mathematically alive.

SMU has one final opportunity to capture a fourth straight bowl berth, a pressing goal for the program. The Mustangs were not up to the challenge a week ago, falling badly to Rice, 36-14. June Jones' team has lacked consistency throughout the 2012 campaign, winning back-to-back games just once all season. Jones needs the extra 15 practices and four quarters to tinker with what's ailed the program on both sides of the ball.

Why Tulsa Might Win: It won't take many points to defeat the Mustangs this week.

SMU has disappointingly iffy on offense all season, ranking 89th nationally, and often needing help from the takeaway-driven D. This opponent will be a particularly rough spot for inconsistent Mustangs QB Garrett Gilbert, who'll have to throw with rushers in his face all afternoon. The Golden Hurricane is third in the country in sacks and tackles for loss, collapsing the pocket from all angles. If ends Cory Dorris and Jared St. John struggle to beat the tackles, linebackers DeAundre Brown and Shawn Jackson will be there to clean up.

Why SMU Might Win: More motivation.

The Mustangs need this game to continue their season. Tulsa? The finale means absolutely nothing. In fact, the Golden Hurricane is liable to tap the brakes as it prepares for next week's Conference USA title game. SMU will put its fate in the hands of league-leading rusher Zach Line and an opportunistic defense that creates as many turnovers as any unit in the country. The team has won three straight games at Ford Stadium, saving its best for the local crowd.

What To Watch Out For: It'll be a case of strength vs. strength when Tulsa runs the ball this weekend.

The Golden Hurricane is No. 13 in FBS rushing, riding the eclectic shoulders of Trey Watts, Ja'Terian Douglas and Alex Singleton. However, the Mustangs are 21st against the run, flooding running lanes with linebackers Taylor Reed, Ja'Gared Davis and Randall Joyner. SMU must slow down the Tulsa backs in order to hold serve at home. If successful, it'll force Hurricane QB Cody Green to complete more passes on third downs than he's gotten used to this season.

What Will Happen: Want-to. It can be a powerful thing this time of year. SMU will play as if there season is on the line, because, well, it is. Tulsa, on the hand, will have its head back in Oklahoma, where it'll be hosting next week's league title game. The Hurricane is the better team, but it'll be tough to recognize on this day. The Mustangs will bring it for all four quarters, getting MVP-type efforts out of Line and the linebackers to tip-toe into the backdoor of the 2012-2013 postseason.

CFN Prediction: SMU 28 … Tulsa 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Tulsa -5 O/U: 53
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2