Sophomore Kyle Padron directs June Jones’ spread attack at SMU.
The Week 1 college football schedule typically is infested with mismatches and potential blowouts (see Texas versus Rice, Oklahoma versus Utah State, Nebraska versus Western Kentucky and Texas A&M versus Stephen F. Austin).
But Sunday’s shootout in Lubbock between SMU and Texas Tech could be entertaining.
Both teams averaged more than 29 points last season and ranked among the nation’s top 15 in passing offense.
Red Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts threw for 3,440 yards in ’09. SMU gunslinger Kyle Padron passed for 1,922 yards in half a season as the starter. Both teams return at least three receivers who had at least 40 catches.
Tommy Tuberville takes the helm of the pirate ship known as Texas Tech football following the unexpected departure of Mike Leach.
Tuberville was quite successful at Auburn, due in part to an always steady run game and fast, athletic defenses. In Lubbock, he inherits pass-centric offensive personnel and a semi-depleted defense with as yet-unproven potential.
Tubervile’s defensive coaching prowess will be put to the test right off the bat against June Jones’s pass-happy offense.
SMU turned in the biggest turnaround in college football last season when it improved from a 1-11 record in Jones’s first season to an 8-5 record and a victory in the Hawaii Bowl last season.
The rapid rebound and the return of 15 starters have made the Ponies a fashionable choice to challenge Houston for the Conference USA West Division title.
First and foremost, though, the Mustangs have to find someone—or a group—to replace 1,000-yard running back Shawnbrey McNeal, who left school early to turn pro.
One note of caution: Jones engineered a similar revival during his second season at Hawaii, and the Rainbow Warriors came out and won just three games the following year.
Similar disaster could befall SMU if certain dominoes fall—such as the absence of a proven playmaker at running back, or if no one steps up at the vacant spots at nose guard and cornerback.
Tuberville has stated that he will change little about the way the Tech offense is run, but if anybody stands to benefit from his arrival, it would be running back Baron Batch, who has rushed for 1,642 yards (5.8 per carry) over the past two seasons.
While most fans will think about the matchup of the Red Raiders younger defensive backs against the Mustangs’ run and gun offense and talented wideouts, there is another battle that deserves attention.
SMU has made the move away from its 3-4 defensive front to hope for more pressure up the middle. Tech allowed 31 sacks last season, more than the last two seasons combined (30 sacks).
Old Southwestern Conference rivals, SMU has dropped 13 straight versus the Red Raiders (5-8 ATS) with no game closer than 10 points. The Mustangs are 2-10-1 ATS in their last 13 road openers (1-12 SU).
SMU is 8-50 SU on the road the last 10 years but did win two games last year to snap a 15-game skid. The Mustangs have failed to ‘cover’ 10 of their last 12 on the highway versus a non-conference foe.
Texas Tech is 16-1 SU and 12-2-1 ATS in its home openers the last 17 years. The Red Raiders are 15-2 SU versus non-conference in-state teams (7-6-1 ATS) since 2000.
Most offshore books opened TT as 10 ½-point college football betting favorites, with the ‘total’ set at 60.