Week 3 Gridiron Spotlight: SMU could shake things up against Michigan
Each week of the season, the Gridiron Spotlight will look at which scheduled game has the ability to impact UH the most.
With East Carolina versus No. 13 Virginia Tech canceled due to Hurricane Florence, and many teams playing FCS squads, the options were limited. With that said, No. 19 Michigan versus SMU is the most impactful non-UH game this weekend.
If the Mustangs are able to beat a ranked opponent, that would be a huge boon for the American Athletic Conference, which has seen its teams go 13-11 in two weeks and has only one ranked team in No. 18 UCF.
Compare that to a conference like the SEC, where the teams have combined to go 23-5 and the message is clear: The AAC needs a signature win. The preferred outcome for the Cougars is that the Mustangs are able to down the Wolverines, but it is not likely.
Through two weeks of the season, SMU’s offense has given no indication that it will be able to move the ball against the Wolverines’ defense. The Mustangs have not yet reached 150 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game.
In last week’s game against No. 15 TCU, the Mustangs’ quarterback attempted 38 passes but barely eclipsed 100 yards.
That would not be so bad if the Mustangs had a reliable ground game, but SMU is ranked No. 127 out of 130 teams in the nation in rushing yards per game. Much of that is due to its week one matchup against North Texas, when the Mustangs gained just four yards on the ground.
While Michigan’s offense has not been a barn-burner, it will play a defense that is statistically even worse.
Michigan will look to use junior quarterback Shea Patterson to pick apart the Mustangs’ pass defense. The Mustangs gave up more than 450 yards per game to opposing offenses, with more than 300 of those yards through the air.
If the Wolverines struggle in the passing game, they can always choose to attack a defense that has given up more than 150 rushing yards per game. The Wolverines’ top two running backs have both averaged more than 6.5 yards per attempt.
SMU has also given up 44 points per game, a figure that is better than only six teams in the entire nation. That is not a good statistic against a team that just scored 49 points against Western Michigan, a team comparable to SMU on defense.
There were positives for SMU in the first half against TCU, but this is a game where Michigan will look to score early and often, likely leading to a sizable blowout.