SMU vs Tulane (11/17/2022 – 7:30 pm EDT)
Line: Tulane -3
The American Athletic Conference is getting busy as teams fight tooth and nail for bowl eligibility and a place at the top of the standings. This Thursday night will feature a big-time matchup between the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the 21st-ranked Tulane Green Wave. The Mustangs are coming off a 41-23 over USF in South Florida while the Green Wave couldn’t fend off UCF, losing 38-31.
The Mustangs have had a decent 2022 so far at 6-4 while 4-2 in the AAC behind three teams, including Tulane, that are tied for first at 5-1. On the plus side, many of SMU’s four losses came to challenging, Power 5 schools, a few of them ranked, making the Mustangs’ strength of schedule worth considering. SMU has gone 5-5 against the spread and 4-6 versus the over/under.
One thing the Mustangs do and do very well is play offense. In fact, they were part of one of the most exciting and highest-scoring games of the season in an astounding 77-63 victory over Houston that featured a combined 140 points! It starts with a passing game that averages 325.9 yards through the air per game, good for seventh in college football while their 486.4 yards of offense ranks 11th overall.
SMU’s offense is led by quarterback Tanner Mordecai who has been fantastic this season as his 2780 passing yards are 15th in the nation while he’s also thrown 27 touchdown passes, which is 5th overall. He has one of the most productive and best receivers in college football in Rashee Rice who has already hauled in 77 passes for 1167 yards, the best in the entire country. He’s also leading all receivers in yards per game with 116.7 a contest.
As one of the best teams in the conference so far, Tulane has had a good season going 8-2 and 5-1 in the AAC where they’re in a three-way tie for first place with UCF and Cincinnati. While they’re already bowl eligible, the Green Wave is looking to end the season as the AAC’s best team so they can earn a berth to the best possible bowl game. Winning the conference will ensure that. On the season so, the Green Wave have gone 8-2 versus the spread and 4-6 against the over/under.
The Green Wave were rocking and rolling until Central Florida came into town last Sunday and kicked their butt on their own home field. The final score didn’t reflect the fact that Tulane was down 31-17 heading into the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a very good performance for a team that hadn’t played a ranked opponent until UCF and will now have to face another tough offensive-minded team in SMU. On that note, the Green Wave has a sound offense that puts up 32.7 points a contest, which is 37th overall while their 415.9 yards passing is good for 49th in the country.
Running back Tyjae Spears has been a handful for opposing defenses as he’s chewed up 875 rushing yards thus far but more impressive are his 6.16 yards per carry and 10 rushing TDs which rank 17th and eighth respectively. Under center is quarterback Michael Pratt who has thrown for 2079 yards with a 65.5% completion percentage to go along with 17 TD passes and another six rushing TDs while he has only tossed four picks.
Free Pick – Tulane -3
Tulane and SMU looked like opposites last Saturday with the Green Wave giving up tons of points to UCF and SMU dominating. This Thursday night, however, things will return back to reality with Tulane set to be prepared to take on the high-scoring Mustangs unlike their game against Central Florida. There is no doubt that SMU can sling the ball but they’re facing a team whose biggest strength is stopping the pass as they hold opposing quarterbacks to only 175.2 yards a game, the 12th-best in the country. The Green Wave also only gives up 19 points a contest, good for 17th in college football. Coming off a disappointing loss to a similar kind of team, Tulane will not repeat their performance against UCF against SMU this time around as they’ll do a much better job defending their home turf. We’re taking Tulane -3.