SMU is taking on No. 19 Michigan in the Big House Saturday afternoon. So far this season, the Mustangs are 0-2 after losing big to North Texas and TCU. The Wolverines lost a close one to Notre Dame and trounced Western Michigan. The odds are not in SMU’s favor Saturday; Michigan goes into the game as 36-point favorites.
Nevertheless, a strong performance could get SMU back on track. The Mustangs have winnable games coming up, and will go in to them with much more confidence if they put up a fight in Ann Arbor. The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network. Before tuning in, here are three things to know about the matchup.
#1: SMU is ready to experience the Big House
Michigan Stadium is the highest capacity sports stadium in the country. It’s big, it’s packed and it’s loud. However the Mustangs are not cowering from having to play in one of college football’s most famous venues. “I think a lot of guys are looking at it like this is an experience not a lot of people get to have, playing in front of 100 thousand plus,” running back Braeden West said. “We’ve got to show up regardless of who it was, no matter who they put in front of us, where it’s gonna be, we’ve got to play, but it’s definitely gonna be an experience.” The noise will make communication difficult all game long. SMU will have to come in organized and prepared to take on an elite Michigan roster in a hostile venue.
#2: Michigan’s defense is scary
Michigan has one of the better defenses in the nation; which isn’t ideal for an SMU offense that has not yet gotten going. The first Wolverine to look out for on defense is defensive end Rashan Gary. The former #1 overall prospect in his class according to 247Sports is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line. SMU’s offensive line has struggled to protect Ben Hicks, and will have to send waves of defenders at Gary to keep him away from the quarterback Saturday, as Western Michigan did last week. Gary is not even the only preseason All-American on the unit. Speedy linebacker Devin Bush can cover ground, make tackles against the run and rush the quarterback. The Mustangs have their hands full getting past Gary, Bush and the rest of the fearsome Wolverine defense.
#3: Will SMU’s offense get it together?
As I detailed, the odds are against SMU’s offense to break out of its funk. It will be playing against one of the best defensive units in the nation in one of the loudest venues in the nation. Beyond that, two starting wide receivers, C.J. Sanders and Reggie Roberson, hurt their ankles against TCU and are questionable for Saturday. If they do play, they will likely be limited. SMU still has a trio of talented running backs and junior quarterback that put together a decent season last year. Now, they will have to execute in an environment that will make it extremely difficult to do so.