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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Football

Hicks, Mustangs rolling early in the season


The SMU Mustangs have scored at least 40 points in each of their wins this season. Head coach Chad Morris has created an offense that can compete with the best in the AAC. | Courtesy of SMU Athletics/Vladimir Cherry

Almost one year ago, the Cougars went into Gerald J. Ford Stadium to face an SMU Mustang’s team that had lost four of its last five games. The Cougars left Dallas with their hopes at a conference title all but dashed after a 38-16 loss.

Mustang head coach Chad Morris and quarterback Ben Hicks have only continued what they started on that October night one year ago. In five games, the Mustangs have compiled a 4-1 record, and Hicks has thrown for 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

It was the Cougars former head coach, Tom Herman, who tried to instigate a rivalry with SMU last season. In hindsight, it appears he made the mistake of kicking a dog while it was down.

Last season’s game against the Cougars appears to have kick-started Morris’ revival of a program that, despite success in the late 2000s, never recovered from the NCAA death penalty it received in the 1980s. Following their win against the Cougars, the Mustangs scored at least 30 points in three of their last five games — the highest scoring margin coming against East Carolina when they scored 55.

This season, the Mustangs have faced only one ranked opponent, the then-20th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs, which is their only loss so far. But in their other four games, they have played like the superior team.

Against teams like Stephen F. Austin State, North Texas and Arkansas State, the Mustangs scored 58, 54 and 44 points, respectively, in their wins. Even against TCU, the Mustangs still manged to score 36 points and were down by only six going into the fourth quarter.

But the Mustangs have carried over their high-scoring offense into conference play. The Mustangs scored 49 points against the UConn Huskies on Saturday and outscored them 21-8 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

The point is that the Mustangs have the tools to be competitive in the American Athletic Conference. Ben Hicks has already passed for over 1,000 yards and should easily pass 2,000 for the second year in a row if he continues his pace.

The team will not come limping into TDECU Stadium. They are rolling, they are motivated, and they will be wanting to go to 2-0 in conference just as much as the Cougars. Houston head coach Major Applewhite may not have started this rivalry, but he will have to bare the brunt of it Saturday night when the Mustangs come into town.

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