College Football: UK TV Preview Week 8 – TNF Special

Tulane Green Wave (1-5) vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs (6-0) – Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas

Friday 22nd October 12.30am (UK)

SMU 14 point favourites at the time of writing

The Thursday night offering from college football brings us two fairly one sided affairs, with two sides who are at or towards the top of their division and conference against two teams who are at the opposite end of the table.

SMU are flying so high that they’re actually ranked 21st in the nation!

Looking at the body of work so far this season, the Mustangs will surely make light work of a Tulane side who have had a tough time this season, admittedly they have had a schedule with the likes of Oklahoma and Ole Miss in the early weeks of the season, so they made it tough for themselves.

Much like Oklahoma and Ole Miss, SMU possesses a high powered offense which has been absolutely humming so far this year, to the tune of 511 yards per game, which is good enough for 7th in the nation. For reference, Ole Miss are third with 553 and Oklahoma, despite their wobbles at QB, are 14th. Last time out, SMU put up 31 points in their win against Navy, which was their lowest points total of the season so far – So this team can move the ball and put the ball in the end zone.

Earlier in the year, Ole Miss dealt with the Green Wave to the tune of a 40 point margin and Oklahoma by 5, so with SMU the 14 point favourites, and looking at how these three offenses have stacked up against each other so far this year, I’d back SMU to win by more than a couple of scores.

Oklahoma transfer QB, Tanner Mordecai is having a really nice year in his first year as a starter in college football; with 1,893 yards, 27 touchdowns (26 passing) and a completion rate of 71%, all whilst throwing 7 picks, which could be improved on but a TD:INT ratio of almost 4:1 cannot be sniffed at.

Mordecai has a really nice group of receivers for the Group of 5 level, with Danny Gray, Rashee Rice and Reggie Roberson forming a really potent trio of receivers and they are supported by tight end Grant Calcaterra, who recently returned to college football after retiring – Calcaterra is another former Oklahoma player who brings a lot of pedigree to the SMU programme.

This fearsome foursome really is a pick your poison group. All three receivers can move and are over 6’ tall, so they have all around ability and then Calcaterra is a huge target as well over the middle of the field and is essentially just a jumbo wide receiver. These four already have 20 touchdowns between them and are dominating pretty much any defense that they come across.

The running attack is headed up by the impressive Ulysses Bentley IV who has the speed to score from all over the field too – So with Mordecai playing point guard to a really high level and this group of offensive playmakers, it’s really tough to stop SMU.

Tulane have struggled this year and their only win came against Morgan State and they just have the look and feel of a team who aren’t going to win more than one more game this year, the next two weeks in particular look a little ominous with Cincinnati waiting for them after this game.

So that this preview isn’t horrifically one sided – Even though I think the game will be – I should give you a player to look out for for the Green Wave.

That guy is former Utah running back, Devin Brumfield. Like Mordecai, Brumfield left a bigger programme in the search of more snaps, and whilst they’ve not quite come his way yet, the Louisiana native is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, so with that effectiveness surely comes more opportunities?

Maybe he’ll show out against SMU on Friday morning.

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (5-1) vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-5) – Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Arkansas

Friday 22nd October 12.30am (UK)

Louisiana 18.5 point favourites at the time of writing

From one Louisiana team to another, but this time the team from a couple of hours west of Tulane’s New Orleans base is the favourite against a lowly conference rival.

Long time readers of this series will know that I have a particular liking for Louisiana QB Levi Lewis and, first thing on Friday morning I will be seeking out the highlights of this game because Lewis is a super-fun QB to watch, a redshirt Senior QB who is too small to play in the NFL but can move around a little bit and can make some plays at all three levels of the field, well worth seeking out to get your Friday off to a good start.

Offensively, the Ragin’ Cajuns average around 30 points per game and 400 yards and have won every game aside from their season opener which was against Texas, who have been by far their toughest opponent, so far but the slightly alarming thing is that they haven’t really blown away inferior opponents this year. Although with that said, they are getting the job done and came through two tough ones against South Alabama and Appalachian State in their two most recent games, so on that score that is positive.

I’d say Louisiana are going about things in a businesslike fashion rather than blowing teams away – And are probably, potentially just lurking outside of the AP Top 25, and if they can keep knocking off Sun Belt rivals before facing Coastal Carolina, they’ll surely make the top 25, which I am here for.

On the flip-side, Arkansas State has the opposite record at 1-5 and are 18.5 point underdogs, which on the face of it seems completely fair.

However…

The Red Wolves have an offense which when we just take the raw numbers, looks pretty similar to the Ragin’ Cajuns – Around 400 yards per game and around 30 points per game.

Florida State transfer QB James Blackman is at the controls as well, so they have some decent pedigree under center and a guy who out man, Andy Moore pointed out earlier in the season – Corey Rucker.

So is there hope for Arkansas State?

Well… Probably not.

The Red Wolves are giving up almost 600 yards (584) per game. So whilst putting up 30 is a reasonable, respectable amount of points, the defense just cannot keep a lid on things to any degree and give the offense a low enough target to clear.

This is a problem.

Aside from their opener against Central Arkansas, the lowest points total that they’ve conceded is 41 against Tulsa, with over 50 given up in each of their other games against Memphis, Washington, Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina.

So This could be the game for Louisiana to be less business-like and to hand out a mollywhopping.


Follow Lee on Twitter – @Wakefield90

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