SMU Holds On Against Tulsa, 35-27: Instant Analysis
What it means for TU:
This loss doesn't affect Tulsa's Conference USA championship hopes, as the Hurricane will still host UCF next Saturday at 11 a.m. What it does affect is potential school history. If TU had won, it could have defeated UCF next week and then won the bowl game to finish 12-2. The 12 wins would have set the new school record, but now the best the Hurricane can do is tie with 11. Also, no C-USA team has ever run the table in conference play and then won the title game; an accomplishment TU can no longer achieve.
What it means for SMU:
The Mustangs are going bowling. SMU came out and played with desperation, earning their sixth win of the season and securing a bowl bid in their final season as a member of Conference USA.
What I liked:
The fight this team constantly shows. The first three quarters were almost unwatchable, but finally the Hurricane woke up in the final minute of the third and almost came back to tie it. This is the first time all year Tulsa failed to show up for the start of the game, but to be honest, it's a little bit understandable. It was a game that had zero impact on the Conference USA title game, it was just two days after Thanksgiving, and the empty stadium provided no energy. Perfect recipe for drowsiness.
What I didn't like:
Other than the first-half Thanksgiving hangover, the play calling was the biggest problem. Cody Green threw 64 passes while TU only ran the ball 38 times. And no, it wasn't all because the Hurricane was trailing. TU came right out of the gate passing the ball, and I have no idea why.
It was over when:
It looked for a while like the answer to this question would have been simply "opening kickoff," but because of TU's incredible comeback it ended up being the final play of the game. Trailing 35-27, the Golden Hurricane needed to drive 95 yards in just 46 seconds with no timeouts. On the final play of the game, Cody Green's deep ball was caught by Jordan James at the goal line, but James was ruled down at the one and TU was out of time. It was an incredible ending to what looked for a long time like a lopsided game.
SMU's Zach Line ran for three touchdowns on the day, placing him alone in second place on Conference USA's all-time rushing touchdown list with 46. He is now one spot ahead of UCF's Kevin Smith. It's a shame that Line had to accomplish this in front of a mostly-empty stadium, but the hundreds of Mustang fans in attendance were clearly excited.
TU's Alex Singleton also continued his climb up the conference's touchdown list. Singleton had one rushing score, giving him 38 for his career and moving him within one of Matt Forte for No. 5 all-time. Singleton also had a rare receiving touchdown, the first of his career. His two scores tied him with Tarrion Adams for most total touchdowns (39) in school history.