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Louisiana Tech destroys SMU in the Frisco Bowl to spoil start of the Sonny Dykes era

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Sonny Dykes began Wednesday full of optimism thanks to the early National Signing Day and the initial crop of recruits in his first SMU recruiting class. The new head coach on the Hilltop ended Wednesday night full of despair however, as his old team of Louisiana Tech laid an absolute beatdown on his new one in the Frisco Bowl by a 51-10 margin that really didn’t indicate how lopsided the game was.

All told, the Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game — five in the first half, including two pick-sixes and a fumble on the very first play. It was a theme that was repeated early and often and probably a reminder that there’s a reason that new head coaches don’t coach their new team in a bowl game after a week on campus for good reason.

About the only thing that didn’t go the way of the Bulldogs came on their first drive as they squandered the opening fumble by shanking a field goal attempt in the red zone. That didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as quarterback J’Mar Smith played nearly perfectly on all those short drives, throwing for 216 yards and a trio of touchdowns while also running one in on a fourth down sneak. Not a bad little performance with a school legend like Terry Bradshaw looking on from the sidelines.

Wideout Teddy Veal was the top target in the passing game and recorded five catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores as he got behind the defense numerous times. He formed a pretty hefty one-two punch with running back Boston Scott, who added another 110 yards on the ground to round out the offensive attack that simply took what SMU gave them up-and-down the field.

Skip Holtz’ defense was the real star of the show though, looking a good two steps faster than their opponents despite limping in with a .500 record as a team. Amik Robertson hauled in a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter while teammate Darryl Lewis followed things up with a 23 yard pick-six of his own in the second quarter as the Tech defense would have nearly won the game on their own even without their offense putting up points a plenty.

On the flip side, it appeared that SMU starter Ben Hicks spent too much of the bowl prep explaining the offense to his new head coach and not enough time getting ready for the game itself. The quarterback would up with three interceptions on the night (after tossing just nine all year) and needed several late drives to finish with 127 yards and a score. His inability to throw the ball to the right team hampered the send off of star wideout Courtland Sutton before he left for the NFL, though the latter did manage 68 yards on the night against some pretty tight coverage.

Louisiana native Trey Quinn also caught eight passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards to lead the team on the ground in a very forgettable postseason return.

It wasn’t how any of them imagined things unfolding just up the road in the Dallas suburb of Frisco on Wednesday night though. Instead, just about everything went the way of Louisiana Tech as they gave their old coach from just a few years ago a rude introduction to his SMU tenure after a wild day of emotions for many in college football.

Turnovers help Louisiana Tech to big halftime lead in the Frisco Bowl over SMU

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The first play of the Sonny Dykes era at SMU? A fumble. The Mustangs then followed that up with an interceptions on their next drive… and then another that turned into a pick-six after that. They would throw another to open the second quarter for good measure.

Safe to say that is not how the team and their new head coach envisioned things going at the Frisco Bowl on Wednesday night, as the team just down the Dallas Tollway from the stadium where the game takes place trailed 42-10 at halftime thanks to five turnovers to Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs managed to take a three-score lead after the first quarter thanks in part to those turnovers — and would have made it a full three touchdown margin had they not shanked a short field goal on the first drive. Either way, quarterback J’Mar Smith finished the half with 131 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air while also punching it in on a fourth and inches at the goal line as well. His and running back Boston Scott’s numbers were far from gaudy in terms of yardage but they certainly did the trick given the short fields and easy chances to score against a defense that missed several tackles early on and couldn’t cover anybody in the secondary.

While Skip Holtz’ side was having a grand ol’ time in the game as they seek their seventh win of the year, the same could not be said for the Mustangs as they play their first game with a somewhat makeshift staff that took over just eight days ago. Signal-caller Ben Hicks might want to burn the tape of this game after throwing three interceptions in the first half (two that went for touchdowns… to LaTech) and 105 yards. Top wideouts Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn combined for 10 receptions and a score, while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards but it didn’t make much of a dint in the scoreboard thanks to a whopping five turnovers.

To make matters even worse the Bulldogs get the ball to start the third quarter.

If SMU winds up coming back to win this one, it might be one of the biggest comebacks ever given how they started this game. More likely, however, is that they can start engraving Louisiana Tech’s name into the Frisco Bowl trophy and nobody will think twice about doing so.