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SMU vs. South Florida Preview

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South Florida vs SMU prediction | Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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Southern Methodist University set NCAA records last week in a wild 77-63 victory at the University of Houston. It was the highest combined score by any two teams and featured 11 Mustang touchdowns in a back-and-forth shootout. This week, they face the South Florida Bulls, who are looking to snap a near-season-long losing streak. The Bulls got beat up by Temple last week, eventually surrendering to a 54-28 defeat.

SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai returned from concussion protocol after missing the previous game and looked like an athlete possessed.

SMU scored nine touchdowns on nine drives, not punting until the third quarter. It would be the only punt of the game for either team. Houston missed a field goal in the second, turned over the ball on downs in the third, and Houston quarterback Clayton Tune tossed three picks that led to touchdowns in the record-setting game.

Mordecai threw for 379 yards and connected with five different receivers for touchdowns. He also picked up one of the team’s two rushing touchdowns and was the third-leading rusher with 54 yards on eight carries.

Rashee Rice was Mordecai’s top target, recording nine catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns and Ben Redding scored three receiving touchdowns on four catches to lead the team in scoring.

Dylan Goffney (three receptions, 100 yards, one touchdown), RJ Maryland (four receptions, 54 yards, two touchdowns), and Moochie Dixon (one reception, 41 yards, one touchdown) contributed to the massive yards and points totals.

South Florida put up gobs of yards against Temple, but couldn’t finish drives. The team lost two fumbles and Katravis Marsh threw an interception while the Bulls’ defense couldn’t contain the ground game in a blowout loss. South Florida has yet to win a game in AAC this season and will need to find a rhythm early to keep up with the SMU offense.

South Florida gave up a total of 277 yards to Temple, including a monstrous 265-yard performance by Edward Saydee. The Bulls defense was not better against the pass either, giving up 344 yards on 27 completions by Owls quarterback E.J. Warner. Warner threw two touchdown passes, no interceptions, and was not sacked. South Florida registered only one tackle for loss in the game.

The SMU defense had its hands full against Houston but made enough plays to tip the game in favor of the Mustangs early to force the Cougars to play catchup throughout most of the game. Tune attempted 54 passes against the SMU defense, completing 36, but also had three interceptions including on back-to-back drives in the first half.

The Mustangs will look to carry the same game plan against South Florida with Mordecai looking for Rice on deep passes and Kendre Miller finding running room in the middle of the field. If the offense can carry the tempo and score early to take a lead, South Florida will be unlikely to muster enough of an offensive attack to stay competitive.

The game will kick off from Raymond James Stadium in Dallas at 11 a.m. CT. ESPN Analytics gives SMU the edge with a 78.8% chance of victory.

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