Connecticut (0-8) at SMU (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UConn 0-5, SMU 2-2. Away Record: UConn 0-3, SMU 1-3. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-4, SMU 2-2. Series Record: SMU leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In an American Athletic Conference battle at Ford Stadium the SMU Mustangs will try to get back in the win column as they take on the Connecticut Huskies, who are out for their first triumph of the season.
It has been a long year for the Huskies. The squad lost head coach Paul Pasqualoni when he was fired earlier this season and have since been playing under interim head coach T.J. Weist. Neither man has been able to coax much out of the Huskies, who are one of the few winless teams remaining in the country. In all, UConn has lost eight games, including all four against league foes. The most recent setback was a 31-10 disappointment at home against nationally-ranked Louisville.
The Mustangs have been a feisty team in the AAC's inaugural season. SMU is sporting just a 3-5 record but it has battled to .500 in league play (2-2) with both of the losses coming by a combined six points. That included a 28-25 setback on Saturday to Cincinnati on the road. The loss ended a season-best two-game winning streak.
In the only other meeting between these programs the Mustangs were able to pull out a 31-30 victory in Dallas during the 1989 season.
Other than South Florida, no team in the AAC has had as much trouble on the offensive side of the ball as UConn. The Huskies are scoring just 15.6 points per game, while recording a miserable 286.6 total yards per contest.
The situation at quarterback has been troublesome for the Huskies, who began the year with Chandler Whitmer under center but have now turned the ball over to Tim Boyle. The transition has not been smooth for Boyle, who has completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts and has eight interceptions and not a single passing touchdown. Casey Cochran came in to clean up after Boyle threw three picks against Louisville and did an admirable job, throwing for a touchdown and 66 yards on 6-of-9 passing, though it came primarily against the Cardinals' second unit.
Poor play at quarterback has really led to a waste of Geremy Davis' talents. Davis leads the team in receptions (41) and yards (620). Shakim Phillips has three of the Huskies' seven total passing touchdowns and has done so while recording 24 receptions and 333 yards.
The running game hasn't yielded much better results with the Huskies averaging just 2.3 yards per carry as a team. Lyle McCombs (496 yards, four TDs) is the leading rusher, while Max DeLorenzo (167 yards) also gets work each week.
Yawin Smallwood (89 tackles) is the only player that has shown flashes of brilliance on defense. The unquestioned anchor of the UConn defense is second in the AAC in tackles. Despite his efforts, the Huskies are still not a particularly strong defensive team as they allow 395.2 yards and 34.6 points per game.
The ability that Garrett Gilbert possesses at quarterback is a major reason that SMU has been competitive this season. Gilbert threw for 403 yards and two scores in the loss to Cincinnati and now has 3,037 yards and 17 touchdown passes this year. He has also completed a heft 66 percent of his pass attempts and been intercepted just six times. Gilbert is also the team's leading rusher with 238 yards and six touchdowns.
The Mustangs have three skilled receivers on the roster and each one had at least 100 yards receiving on Saturday, marking the first time in program history that feat has been accomplished. Darius Joseph (76 receptions, 664 yards, five TDs) leads the team in receptions and had 12 catches for 103 yards and two scores against Cincinnati. Jeremy Johnson (75 receptions, 854 yards, four TDs) and Keenan Holman (49 receptions, 807 yards, six TDs) also had 100- yard games and have been integral parts of the offense.
Traylon Shead (197 yards, three TDs) and Prescott Line (177 yards, two TDS) are the most productive running backs, though they have not gotten much work this year.
Unfortunately, SMU has not put forth enough on defense to be a real threat in the AAC this season. SMU is second to last in the league in total defense (450.5 ypg), while no team in the AAC is giving up more points per game (40.3). The Mustangs do get plenty of pressure on opposing backfields led by Beau Barnes (5.0 sacks, 9.0 TFL), who is one of five players on the team with at least five tackles for loss.
Every week Gilbert gives the Mustangs a chance to win with his ability to make plays both through the air and on the ground. The Huskies don't have the offense to keep pace and will once again go home with a loss after Saturday's contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 34, Connecticut 20
11/14 16:05:55 ET