Coming into the 2010 season there were high hopes for SMU football, this weekend we will see what the Mustangs can really do.
Coming off their first bowl game since the school received the Death Penalty from the NCAA the Mustangs are 1-1 in predictable games. SMU (1-1) went down to Lubbock and were beaten by Texas Tech (2-0), though covering the spread against a Big 12 school, then came back home last weekend and defeated an over-matched Conference USA opponent, UAB (0-2).
This weekend the Mustangs have a chance to beat their first BCS conference opponent since defeating Kansas 31-17 in the first game played in Ford Stadium in 2000. SMU will face Washington State (1-1) of the Pac 10 Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Ford Stadium in Dallas.
SMU could have beaten the Cougars last season in Pullman, Wash., but came up short in overtime. Former SMU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, now at Eastern Washington, threw four interceptions including two in the fourth quarter and one on SMU’s only possession in overtime. WSU kicked a game-winning 39-yard field goal following the interception to win the game 30-27.
Since then sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron has taken over the offense and succeeded in head coach June Jones’ run and shoot style of play calling. Padron is still undergoing growing pains this season, including three interceptions and a fumble lost in SMU’s season opener against Tech.
The biggest surprise on offense this season has been running back Zach Line. The sophomore served as the Mustangs short yardage back with Miami transfer Shawnbrey McNeil getting the majority of the carries last season. But with McNeil gone Line has already rushed for more yards in two games this season than he did all of last year, 194 to 189 yards.
The defense also suffered losses from last seasons’ team. Bryan McCann graduated and is currently on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster and linebacker, and leading tackler, Chase Kennemer graduated. Stepping up so far this season has been senior linebacker Pete Fleps who leads the team with 22 tackles, one for loss, in two games this season. Sophomore defensive back Ryan Smith had a stand out game against UAB recording three tackles, forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass.
Washington State is coming off a 23-22 victory against Montana State. The Cougars were down 22-7 at one point during the game before mounting their comeback. WSU avoided an 0-2 start with the win after losing the season opener 65-17 in Stillwater, Okla. against Oklahoma State.
The Mustangs are currently 23-point favorites to win after opening as 21-point favorites. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ford Stadium.