After a sloppy loss to Temple last week, SMU Head Coach Chad Morris put his Mustangs on notice, calling their poor effort and lack of preparation unacceptable.
On Friday night in Tulsa, the Mustangs seemed to turn over a new leaf, quickly marching the field on their first possession – seven plays and 70 yards in just 1:41. Six Mustangs touched the ball on the way to an early touchdown.
SMU would lead for most of the first half before a Tulsa’ touchdown gave the Golden Hurricane the lead with 1:07 left before the break. The lead would change hands four times in the second half, with SMU’s Josh Williams kicking a 25-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to send the game to overtime.
Tulsa won the coin toss and opted to play defense first. Facing 3rd and goal at the Tulsa five yard line, Ben Hicks’ pass to Courtland Sutton was deflected by Tulsa’s Jeremy Brady, forcing Josh Williams to come on for another field goal attempt. Williams would make the 22-yarder, giving SMU a 40-37 lead.
On Tulsa’s ensuing possession, running back D’Angelo Brewer would carry the ball on three straight plays to earn the Golden Hurricane a first down at the SMU 14. On the next play, SMU’s defense would bite on the fake hand-off to Brewer, opening a huge hole for Tulsa’s Dane Evans on the quarterback keeper. Evans would waltz into the endzone untouched, giving Tulsa the 43-40 win.
Despite the tough loss, improvements on offense were encouraging for a SMU team that averaged 3.8 yards per play last week and only 16.3 points through its last four games.
Freshman quarterback Ben Hicks completed 29 passes on 52 attempts (55.8 percent) for two touchdowns and 258 yards, his highest total on the season. Hicks also made full use of SMU’s robust receiving corps, successfully targeting 10 different receivers for positive yardage. However, Hicks’ production was once again limited by poor accuracy, under and overthrowing receivers at least once on almost every series. Wildness aside, this was the first start in which Hicks did not throw an interception. Tulsa’s secondary assisted Hicks in this respect, dropping multiple arrant throws that were right in their wheelhouse.
SMU’s running backs had a decent night of finding holes in a steady Tulsa defense. Braeden West rushed for 124 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries, and Ke’Mon Freeman rushed for an additional 36 yards and one TD. Tulsa out-rushed SMU by 161 yards.
The Mustangs’ defense gave up 562 yards of total offense, but like in previous weeks, their play was better than the total suggests. SMU’s ability to score kept the defense off the field, allowing the Mustangs to contain Tulsa into the 4th quarter. Linebacker Darrion Millines intercepted a pass from Evans in the 4th, his third INT of the season. The pick extended SMU’s streak of games with an interception to seven, dating back to last season.
The loss drops the Mustangs to 0-2 in American Athletic Conference play and 2-4 overall. Following a bye week, SMU will host No. 6 Houston on Saturday, October 22.
- Darrion Millines’ interception against Tulsa gives SMU a total of 13 interceptions on the season, which leads all FBS teams. Jordan Wyatt and Horace Richardson are also tied for the individual lead in picks with four a piece.
- Wide receiver Courtland Sutton has now gone four straight games without a touchdown reception.
- Defensive end Justin Lawler blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt from Tulsa’s Redford Jones – Lawler’s second blocked kick of the season and third of his career.
- Freshman wide receiver Alex Honey’s first career reception resulted in a touchdown. Honey tallied two receptions for 56 total yards on the night.
- Kicker Josh Williams tied the SMU record for field goals made in a game (4-4).
- Center Evan Brown hobbled off the field with an injury during overtime. The nature and severity of his injury is unknown.
- Running back Xavier Jones did not play against Tulsa. Jones re-aggravated a pre-existing hamstring injury vs. North Texas in Week 1. Jones did play against Temple last week, but left the game with injury after only four rushes for 25 yards.