Even the rain couldn’t dampen SMU’s upset chances.
The Mustangs fought through a 90-minute rain delay to beat No. 17 Houston 45-31 Saturday night in Dallas.
Houston’s offense came into the game averaging more than 570 yards and 49 points per game, but the Mustangs’ defense held the unit to just 153 yards and seven points in the first half. Quarterback D’Eriq King, had scored 39 total touchdowns but was held to just two completions on eight attempts. One of those completions, however, was a 50-yard strike to Marquez Stephenson, Houston’s only offensive touchdown of the half.
While the Houston offense struggled, SMU’s found its groove. The Mustangs, who had been held to just 59 yards on the ground over its previous two games, finally found room to run. The Mustangs gained 154 yards on 19 carries in the first half, running out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
That’s when Houston finally woke up. First, King found Stephenson to make it 17-7. On SMU’s ensuing possession, Xavier Jones fumbled and Houston safety Gleson Sprewell scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. Suddenly, it was a three-point game.
Two possessions later, the Mustangs were able to right the ship and stop the Houston run. They embarked on a 13-play, 91-yard drive that was finished off when Ke’Mon Freeman ran six yards for a score. It was the kind of drive that SMU had not been able to mount in recent weeks.
But perhaps no run was bigger than the 44-yard scamper that Ke’Mon Freeman broke off on SMU’s final drive before the half. It came when the Mustangs were facing fourth and one on their own 37 with just more than a minute left. Freeman took the handoff and cut up the middle and into Houston territory. Four plays later, Hicks found James Proche for a one-yard touchdown that gave SMU a 31-14 lead going into the half.
SMU had a hard time finding the same groove when it came back on to the field following the break. SMU punted on three straight possessions before Hicks hit Reggie Roberson on a 59-yard pass that extended SMU’s lead to 38-17.
But Houston’s offense found its form too, scoring on two-straight possessions to cut SMU’s lead to seven. The Mustangs were driving down the field with less than four minutes to go when lightning struck nearby, starting the delay.
After the delay, SMU scored once more, putting the game away for good.
With the win, SMU improves to 4-5 (3-2). It’s one game out of the AAC West division title.