SMU vs. East Carolina prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the game between the Horned Frogs and Mustangs.
SMU vs. East Carolina Game Preview
When: Saturday, November 12 – 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC
The Mustangs and the Pirates share similar goals entering Week 11, rebound from tough losses to keep faint postseason hopes alive. SMU was bounced by Memphis, 51-7, in a deflating performance that stemmed momentum and snapped a two-game winning streak. Second-year Chad Morris desperately wants more practice time with his kids in December, which will require two wins in the final three games with East Carolina, South Florida and Navy. ECU hasn’t been the same team since upsetting NC State in Week 2. Rookie coach Scottie Montgomery has lost six of the last seven, though this has been a pretty good team when playing in Greenville.
What To Know About SMU
The Mustangs were cruising along nicely at midseason, shocking rival Houston on Oct. 22 before slipping past Tulane. But last week’s implosion against Memphis was emblematic of a young team still grasping for week-to-week consistency under Morris. The offense has been erratic, because redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Hicks has been erratic. Too bad, too, since the skill guys, like running back Braeden West and receivers Courtland Sutton and James Proche are talented. The defense is vulnerable, though, not without its big plays, usually from sack specialist Justin Lawler or one of three three with four interceptions.
What to Know About East Carolina
It all looked so promising for Montgomery at 2-0 … and then reality slowly began to creep into the program. Once the Pirates began to sink, they were unable to stop the slide, in large part because of a soft defense that ranks 113th nationally in yards per play allowed. The unit has also been unable to generate money, with just seven sacks and eight takeaways through nine contests. Making matters worse, an offense that does have potential is being hamstrung by injuries to starting quarterback Phillip Nelson and productive running back Anthony Scott, who sat out last week’s loss at Tulsa.
Offense: SMU. The Pirates boast the premier individual player in this game, wideout Zay Jones, but the injuries to the backfield and the struggles to pass protect have left him on an island.
Defense: SMU. The Ponies are far from stout, but Lawler provides them with a significant edge at collapsing the pocket.
Special Teams: Push. SMU and East Carolina are home to arguably the two worst special teams units in the American.
Coaching: SMU. There’s a reason Morris has been linked to Baylor as the possible long-term successor to Art Briles. The guy can coach, despite the early mark on the Hilltop.
Intangibles: Push. While East Carolina has played well at Dowdy-Ficklen, SMU is more confident and motivated at this stage of the season.
Matchup To Watch
Jones vs. SMU CB Jordan Wyatt
Whether it’s Nelson or Gardner Minshew behind center, he’ll spend most of the afternoon searching for Jones, who leads the FBS with 127 receptions. However, Jones will need to be at his best when running routes to beat Wyatt, an up-and-coming sophomore with four picks and a budding reputation as a lockdown corner.
SMU vs. East Carolina Betting Odds
Spread: East Carolina -7
SMU at East Carolina Prediction
True, SMU played its worst game of 2016 last week. But Morris is preparing this team to have a short memory and to continue forging ahead to achieve their preseason goal of playing into the postseason. East Carolina is trending south as well, but won’t be as quick to bounce back. West will spearhead the offense, while the opportunistic Mustang D will create the pressure and turnovers against a thinning ECU backfield to seal a road upset that props the team back up to .500.
SMU vs. East Carolina Score Prediction: SMU 31, East Carolina 30