Seven down, one to go.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane is four quarters away from finishing the regular season undefeated, but it will have to overcome a desperate SMU squad in order to do it.
The Mustangs (5-6) enter Saturday's contest needing a win to become bowl-eligible, so you can bet they'll give a strong fight. On top of that, this is SMU's final game as a member of Conference USA and the last thing it wants is to have to arrive in the Big East as a losing team.
For TU, this game has no immediate effect on its conference title hopes. Win or lose, Tulsa will still host the C-USA title game next Saturday. But don't confuse "no immediate effect" with meaningless. This season has the potential to be both school and conference record-breaking and a loss Saturday would send most of that down the drain.
SMU is an odd team to scout. Zach Line is one of the best and most accomplished running backs in the country, yet the Mustangs rank No. 104 in the country in rushing yards per game. Line occupies the No. 4 spot on Conference USA's all-time rushing touchdown list with 43. That's six ahead of TU's Alex Singleton, who is No. 7 with 37.
Despite Line's abilities, SMU frequently opts for the pass. The man doing the passing is former Texas Longhorn Garrett Gilbert, whose inconsistent play has singlehandedly both won and lost games this season. Gilbert's 13 touchdowns match his 13 interceptions, although he hasn't thrown any of those picks in the past four games.
If Gilbert is on his game, expect to hear the name Johnson a lot. Darius Johnson leads SMU with 712 yards on 58 catches with four touchdowns. Jeremy Johnson is also often-targeted, hauling in 65 balls for 671 three scores.
The Mustangs' defense has allowed more than 35 points on five, yet on four others held its opponent to 13 or fewer. We'll see which shows up.
Tulsa will look to simply play its game; run the ball and get stops. If TU can avoid the turnovers, its ground game might be too much for the Mustangs' pedestrian defense to handle.
SMU has a lot going in its favor. A 12-7 all-time record against Tulsa, home-field advantage/senior day, and a must-win scenario just to name a few.
TU has a lot going in its favor as well. A high-powered rushing attack and a defense that is seemingly improving every week have combined to give TU a shot at having the greatest season in school history.
The Golden Hurricane has come too far to let it slip now.
Give me TU 38-27