This weekend the fightin’ hilltoppery-miniature-pony-horsemen are ready for the horny-frog-toadsmen in what will likely be the defining game in SMU’s multi-year comeback. Both teams are a pretty predictable 3-1 (more on that in a second), with a loss against a legitimately good team and three wins against legitimately bad ones. Since neither team is very far into their seasons, my predictions are still kind of a shot in the dark.
Both SMU’s and TCU’s offenses are very good, but not great. I give the edge to TCU simply because they were able to put up 48 on Baylor. SMU put up only 14 on a team they should have put up 21 to 27 on. Since then, though, the offense has rarely missed an opportunity to score, even though they were against bad teams. TCU has played two absolutely atrocious teams and Air Force (the flying-lightning-bolt-rod-strikes always put up a fight) since Baylor, and TCU has looked impressive in every one. On Baylor: I wasn’t surprised. Baylor was way underated and TCU was back for their first game with a new qb and some depth lost.
SMU has played three pretty bad teams since A&M, and dominated them all. If either team was more prepared for this game, I would have to hand it to SMU simply because they played the much better team in A&M and have simply obliterated the last two teams. Zach Line (rb) has been very impressive and if TCU cannot effectively stop him, he will be the game breaker. Against Baylor, TCU allowed something like 5 yards a carry and 120 yards against a pass-heavy team, and against Air Force, who prefers the run, TCU gave up 249 total rushing yards. I can see the pass opening up a couple big runs for Line in this game. BUT TCU is at home. The offensive edge is a toss-up.
The defenses are evenly matched, but I also give the slight edge to TCU. SMU’s offense, though good, is not nearly as dynamic as the baylor offense and just about as good as the Baylor defense. TCU also has a deeper team, which will help them in the 3rd and 4th quarters. At this point, though, it is hard to tell who has the better defense between the two of them because both were pretty much owned by the high-caliber offenses they have faced. The only TCU game I have watched was against Baylor, and I have watched almost every SMU game this season. All I can say is that about half the time a long pass goes out, I facepalm at the decision-making or play of the cornerbacks and safeties of SMU and TCU (Griffin averaged over 13 yards per pass!). Special teams I also give the edge to TCU simply because SMU always makes a stupid special teams mistake in a big game. If SMU wins this game, it will signal that we are back as a second-tier team. If not, well then we still have a year more before we are truly back.
Optimistic score: SMU-31, TCU-28
Realistic prediction: TCU-35, SMU-21
And a block by Margus Hunt.