TAMPA, Fla. – After an impressive takedown of in-state rival TCU to cap off an undefeated non-conference slate, SMU looks to be one of the favorites in the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs will now open conference play Saturday with a visit to South Florida, which has beaten SMU in the last three meetings.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: SMU -7.
What has propelled the Mustangs on offense is their running game, eclipsing 100 yards in all four contests, including 390 in their Week 3 win against Texas State. SMU, which is seeking its first 5-0 start since 1983, ranks second in the nation with 15 total rushing touchdowns. Though the Bulls have allowed seven rushing touchdowns, tied for 10th worst in the nation, they have still been a formidable defense, holding two of three opponents to 16 points or fewer. South Florida, which ended an eight-game losing streak with a 55-16 rout of South Carolina State two weeks ago, is tied for first in the nation in turnovers forced and fumbles recovered.
ABOUT SMU (4-0)
Running back Xavier Jones has been a star for the Mustangs, rushing for 375 and eight touchdowns, good enough for second in the nation. Graduate-transfer quarterback Shane Buechele has hit his stride, tossing for 288 yards and two touchdowns against TCU. Buechele has been helped by the receiving duo of James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr., who have combined for three 100-yard receiving games on the season.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (1-2)
While showing defensive prowess, the Bulls have struggled on offense, scoring just 10 points in their first two games before exploding for 55 in the win against FCS foe South Carolina State. In that contest, redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud, who replaced benched senior Blake Barnett, accounted for five total touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Johnny Ford and senior tight end Mitchell Wilcox have been on the receiving end of two touchdowns each.
1. SMU is 4-1 in its last five road games.
2. South Florida is 5-1 in AAC openers.
3. The Mustangs have at least one takeaway in each of the last 15 games.
PREDICTION: SMU 30, South Florida 17