HOUSTON – SMU is off to its best start since winning the first 10 games of 1982 and the 17th-ranked Mustangs have destiny in their hands for a trip to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game as they visit state-rival Houston on Thursday night. SMU has scored at least 41 points in each of the last six games and is coming off what coach Sonny Dykes said was his team's "most complete game we've played at this point."
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: SMU -14.5
Junior quarterback Shane Buechele threw for 457 yards and a school record-tying six touchdowns, connecting with junior receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. for three of those scores and 250 yards, as the Mustangs pounded Temple 45-21 last week. "I'm not surprised, really," Dykes told reporters of SMU's 7-0 start. "But, you know how this stuff goes. I wouldn't be surprised if we lost our next five games. You know what I'm saying? That's the way college football is. I don't think we will, and I hope we won't. We're not going to roll up against anybody the next five weeks and just be able to not play well, and win the game." Houston came into the season as one of the teams to beat in the AAC, but after a 1-3 start to the campaign star quarterback D'Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin elected to redshirt and replay their senior seasons in 2020 - turning the Cougars into a potential spoiler. Houston has won two of three since King and Corbin stepped away, but had to struggle past a rebuilding Connecticut team for a 24-17 victory last week as freshman quarterback Logan Holgorsen - the son of coach Dana Holgorsen - threw the go-ahead TD pass in the third quarter.
ABOUT SMU (7-0, 3-0 AAC)
Buechele, who started his career at Texas, has thrown for 2,122 yards - seventh-most in the nation and tops in the AAC - and 18 scores to go along with six interceptions this season while completing 64.8 percent of his passes. Roberson, who played for Holgorsen at West Virginia as a freshman, has caught 42 passes for 795 yards with six TDs and senior James Proche boasts 609 yards on 54 receptions with eight scores to lead a talented receiving corps. Senior Xavier Jones leads the ground attack with 751 yards and 14 TDs (two receiving), closing within 89 yards of becoming the eighth player in SMU history to reach 3,000.
ABOUT HOUSTON (3-4, 1-2)
Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune, who missed last week's game because of a hamstring injury, is practicing and Holgorsen told reporters: "We have to pump the brakes, and try to get as many snaps out of him for the remainder of the year as we possibly can. He's in a good place." Senior Patrick Carr missed last week's game due to an undisclosed injury, so the Cougars will again likely depend on junior Kyle Porter (448 yards rushing, three TDs) to lead the nation's 22nd-ranked ground attack. Junior safety Grant Stuard averages nine tackles per game (second in the AAC) and junior lineman David Anenih leads the team with five sacks.
1. Houston sophomore WR Jeremy Singleton caught the go-ahead score and had a season-high 103 receiving yards last week.
2. SMU senior S Patrick Nelson is tied for 10th in the nation and second in the conference with 7.5 sacks.
3. The Cougars lead the all-time series 21-12-1 despite losing the matchup at Dallas last year 45-31.
PREDICTION: SMU 45, Houston 14