SMU handles Houston goes 8-0

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, October 25th, 2019

Image result for SMU vs Houston                                                                    BY:  Dic Humphrey

When this year’s college football season began, eight wins looked like the top end for SMU football.  Thursday night in Houston, the Mustangs, ranked 16th and 17th in the two major polls, got that eighth win, and it took just eight games to get there.  The Ponies beat the University of Houston Cougars 34-31 at TEDECU Stadium on the UH campus.  It was a game in which the Mustangs never trailed, and a game that provided many opportunities for SMU to pull away early.   However, the feisty UH Cougars played hard and overcame more than 100 penalty yards to stay in the game.  For SMU, 34 points is the lowest output of the season, but in the end, the Mustangs remained undefeated as they became the first team in the FBS to get to 8-0.  

SMU Head Coach Sonny Dykes didn’t think his team played well.  After the game, he said, “It’s hard to win on a short week on the road.  Travel is tough.  I have to give our guys credit for getting out of here (with a win).”

Houston Head Coach Dana Holgerson was very complimentary of the Mustangs saying, “Congratulations to Sonny Dykes and SMU.  They’re 8-0 and they find ways to win.  They’re in their second year in their system, and they have a lot of seniors and guys that have been doing the right stuff for them, and its showing.”

Running back Xavier Jones perhaps summed it up best saying, “We got the job done.  It was an ugly game, but I’m really proud of my team for how we fought.”

Shane Buechele again keyed the win.  His numbers weren’t as gaudy as they were last Saturday against Temple when he passed for 457 yards.  He was 20-38 for 203 yards with an interception, and he was sacked twice.  Two of his passes went for touchdowns.  The Mustangs rushed the ball 34 times for 182 net yards to generate just 385 yards of total offense.  

The Mustangs’ defense gave up 510 yards in total offense to Houston.  A third of those yards came on two big scoring plays.  However, Houston’s offense was often held in check by big losses.  SMU’s defense sacked UH quarterback Clayton Tune seven times.  Houston was hurt by penalties.  SMU was the beneficiary of 129 penalty yards which provided eight first downs.

The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and drove efficiently down the field.  However, on fourth and goal from the one, Buechele’s pass into the end zone was incomplete such that SMU had nothing to show on the scoreboard for the 11 play, 74 yard drive.  Reggie Roberson missed what should have been a touchdown pass to end that drive.  He was carted off the field with a foot injury, did not return to the game, and was reportedly in a walking boot and on crutches after the game.  

Dropped passes plagued SMU all night, but particularly in the first quarter.  James Proche finally caught a touchdown pass on SMU’s third possession to give the Ponies a 7-0 lead going into the second quarter.  

The Cougars tied the game just 32 seconds into the second quarter.  However, SMU seemingly took control by answering with two touchdowns in the span of just over four minutes to make the score 21-7.  The two touchdown drives consumed just 1:32 total on the clock.  The Cougars answered with a strong drive (11 plays for 67 yards) that got held to a field goal by the Ponies defense.  However, a Mustang turnover opened the door for a late Cougar field goal to make the score 21-13 at halftime.  

The second half started fast.  SMU recovered a fumble and ran it to the Houston two yard line.  One play later, the Mustangs were in for a touchdown.  Houston quickly answered with a touchdown of their own – one play for 75 yards.  Both scores came in the first minute of the third quarter.  However, the only further scoring in the quarter was an SMU field goal to up the lead to 31-20 going to the fourth.

The Cougars scored quickly in the first 50 seconds of the final stanza to cut the Ponies lead to eight points at 31-23.  SMU added a field goal, but UH scored a touchdown on a 96 yard run from scrimmage.  They made a two point conversion to get within a field goal at 34-31.  SMU was able to run the clock down under two minutes before punting.  At that point, the Cougars were out of timeouts.  They moved the ball across the fifty yard line, but time ran out making 34-31 the final score.

The win makes SMU 8-0 for the season and 4-0 in conference play, as they lead the West Division of the American Athletic Conference.  Eight games was what some prognosticators felt would be the most this team could win this year.  It is the most for any SMU season since 1986, but at this point, eight wins for the season doesn’t look like enough.  The Mustangs are surely looking for more in this already historic season.  Houston fell to 3-5 and 1-3.

SMU next travels to Memphis to face the Tigers on Saturday, November 2.  The game time and TV haven’t been announced.  Memphis is 6-1 for season and 2-1 in conference play.  They are on the road against Tulsa this Saturday.  The Memphis game is critical for the Ponies’ chances of winning the West division of the American Athletic conference.  

NOTABLE:

  • This was the first win for SMU over UH in Houston in 14 years.
  • The Mustangs created three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles) to keep their turnover streak alive at 19 consecutive games.   That ties them for second place with Maryland in the FBS.  Syracuse leads with a 21 game turnover streak.
  • With seven sacks for the game, SMU is up to 36 for the season.
  • James Proche’s touchdown catch gives him at least one in each of the last seven games.  He can tie the SMU record of eight straight games next week against Memphis.  Aldrick Robinson in 2010 caught touchdown passes in eight straight games.
  • Xavier Jones rushed 22 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns.  Included was a career high 62 yard run.  He has scored at least one touchdown in each game this year.
  • Patrick Nelson was credited with 2.5 sacks to bring his season total to 10.  Luke Johnson holds the SMU sack record with 11.5 in 1999.
  • Tight end Kylen Granson is getting targeted more frequently.  He caught six passes for 76 yards and scored a touchdown for the second straight week.   

 

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