SMU Mustangs at TCU Horned Frogs Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
SMU Mustangs at TCU Horned Frogs, Saturday Sept. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET
I try to pick the best games of the week to preview each here at Doc's Sports. At first glance this one wouldn't seem to fit the bill. There are a couple of reasons I like the game, though. First these are neighboring schools, and I'm a sucker for a little long-held, geographical-based hatred. It's what college football is all about. Second, both teams are off to strong starts, so the matchup is better than it could be. It won't be the best game we have ever seen by any means, but in a week that isn't jam-packed with mega-thrilling games this one has more intrigue than most.
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SMU at TCU Betting Storylines
We could paint a pretty flattering picture of SMU if we wanted to. Through two games they have averaged 56 points per game, which is fifth in the nation, and they have a Top 25 passing offense with 308 yards per game. They have really been clicking offensively. Context is important when evaluating college teams, though, and that isn't good news for the Mustangs. Their wins have both been at home, and they have come against Stephen F. Austin and North Texas. Even if you haven't started paying close attention to college football yet this season you probably can figure out that those are not two national title challengers. By beating the heck out of crappy teams all they have proven is that they aren't a truly horrible team. They haven't yet proven that they are any good, though. And second, despite the soft opposition, QB Ben Hicks, a redshirt sophomore who played extensively last year, has not been particularly good. His 6-to-1 TD-to-interception ratio is solid enough on the surface, but he has completed only 50 percent of his passes, which just isn't good enough against outmatched secondaries. Hicks had a rough day last year against TCU, and it is quite possible that he will again.
TCU has played a tougher schedule - or at least one tougher game. Their opener against Jackson State was every bit the joke you'd expect it to be - it was 63-0, and TCU essentially took the last 10 minutes off because they had embarrassed the Tigers enough already. In the second game at Arkansas, though, TCU did a whole lot to help Bret Bielema get fired. They absolutely dominated in a 28-7 win. Arkansas had one big play - a 49-yard TD pass - and pretty much nothing else. If anything, it was surprising that the game was only won by 21. Through these two games TCU has rediscovered that once-stellar defense that had disappeared for them the last couple of years. They are ranked third nationally with just 166 yards per game allowed, fourth in points and fifth in passing yards. And they held Jackson State to just 65 yards of total offense. They will struggle more defensively against some teams later in their schedule - they play Oklahoma State next week and Oklahoma in November - but for now they are poised to make things difficult for Hicks.
There is one reason to be somewhat optimistic about SMU this year. As the theory goes, a good coach really starts to put his fingerprints on a team in his third season. Chad Morris is a good coach - one who had never been a head coach at the college level before. But obviously a talented guy. He took over a program that was a total tire fire, and he won only two games in his first year. That climbed to five last year, and now he is 2-0. This is in no way going to be a team that contends for anything, but they should be better than we have come to expect them to be. Or at least that's the theory.
SMU at TCU Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with TCU favored by 20 points, but that number was very short lived. It fell as low as 17.5 but has since rallied and now sits at 19. The number is likely to be quite volatile, but it will likely stay under the key number of 21 and above the key number of 17, so it doesn't matter too much what it does other than that. The total has opened at 64.5 and hasn't moved in early action.
The Mustangs are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games, and they have the same mark in their last six nonconference games. They are only 8-20-1 ATS in their last 29 against the Big 12, though. TCU is a dismal 0-9 ATS in their last nine home games and 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games overall. They are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight September games.
SMU at TCU Predictions and Picks
TCU is the better game. Little doubt about that. I respect Morris, though, and TCU isn't exactly a betting juggernaut. I'm willing to gamble and take the points on a line this big. SMU is on the road, but it's not exactly a grueling trip, and that will help. SMU is the play.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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