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The Big SMU Mustangs Preview

No rest for the weary this week for the Bulls.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 SMU at TCU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Opponent: RV/RV SMU Mustangs

2021 Record: 4-0

Head Coach: Sonny Dykes (26-14 in four seasons at SMU

Date/Time/Location: Saturday, October 2, 4 p.m., Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000), Dallas, TX

How To Watch/Listen: ESPNU, 95.3 WDAE/1250AM, Bulls Unlimited

Series History: USF leads series 3-2. Last: SMU won 48-21 in 2019

After a tough road loss to No. 15 BYU, the South Florida Bulls head back out on the road as they face the SMU Mustangs to open up AAC play.

The Mustangs tout one of the most complete offenses in the country so far this season as their potent, and balanced attack makes them a match up nightmare for a depleted, a reeling USF defense.

The Mustangs are led by Oklahoma transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai who has thrown for 1,268 yards with 20 touchdowns and has completed 70.5% of his attempts on the year. He leads all of FBS in touchdown passes this year.

The former four-star recruit has multiple weapons at his disposal at receiver and tight end. Wide receiver Danny Gray leads the team in catches (20), and yards (358). He’s tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with fellow wide out Rashee Rice with five. Rice has also caught 14 passes for 227 yards. WR Reggie Roberson is second on the team with 17 catches for 211 yards, and two touchdowns. Oklahoma transfer tight end Grant Calcaterra has 13 catches for 202 yards, and three scores of his own. In total, seven different players have caught a touchdown pass this year for SMU.

That doesn’t bode well for a USF secondary who’s been beaten and bruised through the first four weeks. Will Jones was lost for the year, and replacement Matt Hill has been an adventure at safety. Miami transfer Christian Williams has been out since week one with an ankle injury. T.J. Robinson missed time last week with an injury as well, plus Mekhi LaPointe has been dealing with a hip injury. If the Bulls continue to struggle getting pressure on the quarterback, Mordecai will easily pick apart the secondary.

USF has just 11 tackles-for-loss through the first four games, and have registered a paltry three sacks on the year. For USF to have chance in this game, they will need to create negative plays, and force SMU off schedule. SMU hasn’t allowed a sack this year. As a team, SMU has lost just 32 yards total in the rushing game. For comparison, USF has lost 114 yards. SMU running back Ulysses Bentley IV (great name tbh) has rushed for 403 yards, and two scores on 53 carries this year. As a team SMU is averaging 232.3 yards per game on the ground.

Truly a pick your poison.

The best way to combat a high-octane offense? Keep them on the sideline.

The Bulls showed last week that they can milk the clock on offense to limit possessions, and shorten a game if needed. True freshman QB Timmy McClain and the cavalcade of running backs will need to carry over the success they had at BYU running the ball and extending drives to give USF a fighting chance. If this turns into a shootout, the Bulls will run out of ammo quickly.

(SMU’s defense isn’t very good, and the Bulls should be able to move the ball well. They just need to suck the life out of the ball, and be effective when they have it.)

One final thing, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TACKLE SOMEONE. Too many arm tackles. Break down, and wrap the ball carrier up. We can live with getting beat on perfect throws, but getting beat because you can’t tackle someone in a phone booth is another topic all together.

SMU 35, USF 14 (One of these times I’m going to pick against USF and they’re gonna prove me wrong. Make it this week.)