Category: SMU Mustangs

Group of Five Update: Boise State pushes way back into the mix

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Welcome Boise State back into the Group of Five conversation. The Broncos picked up their second win of the season against a power conference opponent, even if it was against Virginia. The Broncos went on the road without their starting quarterback and they absolutely hammered Virginia. It was just the kind of win Boise State needed to remind people the Broncos still belong in the New Years Six discussions among Group of Five conference contenders.

The highest-ranked Group of Five champion as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings will receive a seat at the adult table in the New Years Six bowl line-up. Boise State grabbed that spot last season, but the Broncos are already playing catch-up in this year’s race due to a loss to BYU and the overall strength of the Mountain West Conference coming into question based on the on-field results this fall. If Boise State’s offense is going to tick the way it did against Virginia the rest of the way, then watch out for the Broncos. They have the brand image helping them out as well compared to other contenders.

Toledo still has some weight of its own with a road win at Arkansas to brag about, along with a win against Iowa State. Those wins are starting to drop in value though, especially the Arkansas game after the Razorbacks just dropped their third straight game. Maybe Toledo ruined Arkansas’ season. But the Rockets still must get out of the MAC to maintain their standing, and that means getting by Bowling Green and Northern Illinois at some point. The Huskies have fallen in the race with two losses but are still looking to be a solid threat in conference play. Bowling Green also has a pair of power conference victories and should be a tough team to beat in the MAC.

The American Athletic Conference saw all of its top teams remain undefeated this week. Memphis continued to show off its offensive skill in a wild win over Cincinnati, dropping the preseason AAC favorites to 0-2 in conference play and all but seemingly eliminated them from New Years Six consideration. Navy scored a road win at UConn and Houston blew away Texas State. Temple was off this week. The AAC also scored a win over the ACC with East Carolina edging Virginia Tech, but the conference also saw UCF drop to 0-4 at South Carolina and SMU upset at home against James Madison.

Here’s how I think the College Football Playoff selection committee might rank the top Group of Five teams at this point in the season.

  1. Toledo (3-0; two wins vs. Power 5 conferences)
  2. Memphis (4-0; looking like the team to beat in the American)
  3. Temple (3-0; Beat Penn State and Cincinnati, hoping to be undefeated when they face Notre Dame on Halloween)
  4. Boise State (3-1; Two wins vs. Power 5 conferences, but MWC holding them back)
  5. Navy (3-0; Mids are rolling with Keenan Reynolds and sound defense, big home game with Air Force this week before going to Notre Dame)

Teams on the radar: Houston, Bowling Green, Air Force

Houston’s biggest win of the season is still the week 2 upset at Louisville. If the Cougars get out of Tulsa with a win to fo 4-0, Houston could be lining up an undefeated regular season. The biggest games will come much later in the season with both Memphis and Navy at home.

Bowling Green has won two games against Big Ten opponents and they have the t-shirts to prove it. But those wins came against Purdue and Maryland. The Falcons have lost twice though, which means they could be chasing a couple of teams and need some help outside of the MAC.

Air Force is 2-1 and has a big game at Navy this weekend. The Falcons suffered a loss at Michigan State in week 3, their only opportunity against a power conference opponent. The strength of the Mountain West holds Air Force back for now, but a 10-2 Air Force team with a Mountain West championship would be a very intriguing Group of Five candidate for the selection committee to consider.

Looking Ahead Game of the Week

Navy (3-0, 2-0 AAC) vs. Air Force (2-1, 1-0 MWC); October 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Not only is the first part of the Commander-in-Chief series underway between these two service academies, but positioning in the Group of Five race will be on the line. A win for Navy would move the Midshipmen to 4-0 and knock the Mountain West down another rung while boosting the American’s standing. With the margin for error already reduced for Air Force with one loss and a struggling MWC, a win may be critical for Air Force to keep much hope of playing in a New Years Six bowl alive.

Week 4, Statistically Speaking

stats word on a lptop computer
Associated Press

A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.900 — Career winning percentage (27-3) of Michigan State’s Connor Cook, the best of any active FBS quarterback.  Next in line are Stanford’s Kevin Hogan at .750 (27-9) and Wisconsin’s Joel Stave at .750 (24-8).

5 — Field goals in the first two quarters for Nebraska’s Drew Brown, tying the NCAA record for a half last set by Nebraska’s Dale Klein (1985 at Missouri) and New Mexico State’s Dat Ly (1988 at Kansas). He also tied the record for most field goals in a quarter with four set previously by five players, the last of which was Oregon State’s Jose Cortez in 1998.  Brown failed to connect on a field goal in the second half.

6 — FBS teams that have won 10 or more games in a season since 2000: Boise State and Oklahoma (12); Ohio State (11); Oregon, TCU and Virginia Tech (10).

8 — Number of Power Five programs that have won at least 100 games since the start of the 2005 season: Ohio State (114), Alabama (110), Oregon (108), LSU (106), Oklahoma (104), TCU (104), USC (102) and Wisconsin (101).

at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.13 — Shutouts for Alabama since 2010, nearly double of the next-best total of seven by both Florida and Ohio State.  Stanford is just behind those two with six.

13 — Graduate students on Virginia’s roster, the most of any FBS team.  Right behind UVa. is South Carolina with 11, followed by Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri and USC with 10 apiece.

13 — Games in which Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has scored three or more rushing touchdowns, the most of any player in NCAA history.

13.1 — Yards per carry UT-San Antonio’s Jarveon Williams averaged in gaining 170 yards on Colorado State.  The junior came into the game averaging 4.2 ypc this season, and had averaged more than five yards a carry in just three of the 22 games in which he had played previously.

16 — Games scoring 60 points or more since 2009 for Baylor, the most of any FBS team.  Oregon is next with 12.

19 — Consecutive games in which Baylor and Michigan State have scored three-plus touchdowns in a game, the longest streak in the country.  Nebraska has pulled that trick in 18 straight.

31 — The number of first downs for Tulsa has earned in each of its three games this season.

LSU v Syracuse50 — Consecutive non-conference wins for LSU, extending the all-time best streak with a win on the road at Syracuse. LSU hasn’t lost a non-conference regular season game since a 26-8 defeat at Virginia Tech to open the 2002 season.

64 — Percentage of the TCU student body that’s female, a statistic that is likely mentioned prominently on the recruiting trail.

134 — Points SMU has scored through four games this season, after scoring 133 points in 12 games last season.

148 — Wins for Oregon this century, easily the most of any school in the Pac-12.  The next closest is USC with 122, although the Trojans’ number would climb to 146 if vacated wins were counted.

163 — Consecutive made extra points for Florida State’s Robert Aguayo, by far the longest streak in the nation.  Next closest is Duke’s Ross Martin, who has made 124 straight, while Middle Tennessee State’s Cody Clark has connected on 115 in a row.

173 — Passing yards combined for Boston College (92) and Northern Illinois (81) in BC’s 17-14 win.  A total of 19 quarterbacks threw for more than that combined total in one half in Week 4.

184 — Rushing yards for Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, setting a single-game school record for a quarterback.

193 — Points Ole Miss scored in 12 games in 2011, the year prior to Hugh Freeze‘s arrival in Oxford.  In four games this season, the Rebels have scored a total of 219 points.

267 — Receiving yards for TCU’s Josh DoctsonTCU v Texas Tech, breaking the school’s single-game record of 226 by Jimmy Young in 2008.

300 — Rushing yards on 42 carries for San Jose State’s Tyler Evans against Fresno State, the most for any player in the FBS this season.  His previous career high was 146 set last season.

316 — Combined receiving yards for Middle Tennessee State’s Ed’Marques Batties and Richie James; their Blue Raider teammates combined for a total of 14 yards.

350 — Players from the SEC on NFL rosters, the most of any Power Five conference.  Behind that league are the ACC (269), Big Ten (248), Pac-12 (246) and Big 12 (151).

447 — Yards passing for Southern Miss’ Nick Mullens in the loss to Nebraska, the second time he’s gone over the 400-yard mark in his career.  Not surprisingly, both of those games were losses for the Golden Eagles.

457 — Rushing yards for Notre Dame in a 62-27 win over UMass.  The Irish averaged nine yards on its 51 carries, with C.J. Prosise going over 100 yards (149) for the third straight game.

457 — Passing yards for Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty vs. Miami of Ohio, his third straight game of 400-plus yards and fifth time in the last six he’s gone over that mark.

TCU v Texas Tech485 — Career-high passing yards for Trevone Boykin in TCU’s wild win over Texas Tech.

517 — Yards rushing for UNLV in an 80-8 win over FCS Idaho State.  That romp snapped a nine-game losing streak.

620 — Team passing yards for Cincinnati in its Thursday night loss to Memphis.  While it’s an impressive total, it’s far off the single-game record of 771 yards put up by Houston in a 1989 game vs. SMU.

1956 — The last time Texas was 1-3 to start a season prior to this year.  It’s also the first time in program history the Longhorns have lost three games before the end of September.

1956 — The last time prior to facing No. 23 Northwestern and No. 20 Georgia Tech the last two weeks that Duke had played consecutive home games against ranked teams the same season.

1961 — The last time Memphis started a season 4-0 prior to this year.

1974 — Last five-game road winning streak for North Carolina State prior to the current one, tied for longest in school history.  The Wolfpack also won five straight away from home in 1962-63.

1977 — Last meeting with a Mountain West school for Penn State prior to its game against San Diego State.

2004 — Before this year, the last season UCF started a season 0-4, when the Knights finished 0-11 in George O’Leary‘s first season.

2008 — Last season Colorado had a three-game winning streak prior to their run to start the 2015 season.  The Buffaloes last won four straight in the same season in 2002 when they peeled off five in a row.

7,220 — Feet above sea level the University of Wyoming sits in Laramie, the highest elevation of any FBS program.

425,000 — Dollars FCS James Madison for beating SMU Saturday.

25,989,854 – Number of fans who have watched Nebraska play football during its record streak of 344 straight sellouts at Memorial Stadium, which began back on Nov. 3, 1962.

No. 4 Baylor pulls away from SMU, 56-21

Seth Russell, Justin Lawler

Rare is the game with a 56-21 final score where both teams come away feeling better about themselves than when they started, but that’s what we saw Friday night in Dallas as No. 4 Baylor dominated the second half for an as-expected 35-point win.

Let’s start with the winning team. Baylor picked up exactly where it left off, needing only four plays and 50 seconds to notch its first touchdown, a three-yard Devin Chafin run. The Bears added three more scores in the first quarter, driving 75, 75 and 63 yards to get them. Baylor was shut out in the second quarter – the Bears actually posted a minus-1 total offense number in the frame – but stole momentum for good at the end of the first half, sacking SMU quarterback Matt Davis at the Bears’ 9-yard line as time expired.

Baylor thoroughly dominated the second half, owning a 28-0 scoring advantage, as Seth Russell hit Jay Lee for a pair of third quarter touchdowns and capped his night with a 57-yard catch-and-dash touchdown to Corey Coleman. True freshman Jarrett Stidham entered the game late and connected with Chris Platt for a 42-yard touchdown on his very first collegiate pass.

Overall, Russell hit 15-of-30 passes for 376 yards with five touchdowns and an interception while adding six carries for 59 yards and another score. Chafin, Shock Linwood and Terence Williams combined to rush 28 times for 219 yards and one score. Each of Baylor’s three primary wide receivers posted big numbers – Coleman snagged five passes for 178 yards and a score, Cannon snared three grabs for 104 yards and a score, and Lee compiled 70 yards while scoring on all three of his grabs.

But the night was not as easy for the two-time defending Big 12 champions as the final score indicated, as SMU played even or ahead of the Bears for all but the final play of the first half. After Baylor opened the scoring, SMU used a 49-yard Braeden West kickoff return to set Davis up for a 46-yard scoring strike to Courtland Sutton on the Ponies’ very first snap from scrimmage.

Remember, this was the same SMU team that came out the gate last season looking more lifeless than a Walking Dead casting call, needing a full 120 minutes to notch its first points of the 2014 season. But it wasn’t really the same team at all, thanks to new head coach Chad Morris.

After scoring on its first drive, SMU answered another Baylor touchdown by marching 83 yards in 12 plays to again tie the game. SMU shut Baylor out in the second quarter while mounting another long scoring drive, this time a 12-play, 78-yard, 6-minute, 22-second slog to pull within 28-21.

That was pretty much the high point for the Mustangs. Their next drive ended in an interception, and the drive after that saw SMU get only two plays off in the final 43 seconds of the first half after driving to the Baylor 3 with a chance to tie the game.

SMU did not threaten to score in the second half, punting on five straight possessions before throwing another interception, but the point had been proven. The Mustangs played a top-five team to a relative draw for 30 minutes, and showed in Davis that they have a quarterback. The junior Texas A&M transfer connected on 16-of-23 passes for 166 yards with two touchdowns and two picks while leading the club in rushing with 24 carries for 115 yards. Xavier Jones rushed 13 times for 38 yards and a score and caught four passes for 38 yards, and Sutton totaled 82 yards and two touchdowns on his three receptions.

More than the statistics, though, SMU looked different than it ever did under in 2014. The Mustangs played crisper, harder and with purpose and certainty. Credit Morris for that.

Baylor may very well go on to win a third straight Big 12 title and reach its first College Football Playoff, but here’s one thing that is absolutely certain: the days of SMU being a pushover ended the day Morris was hired.