The American Conference will begin to sort out its second-tier as two teams headed in opposite directions meet in Dallas on Saturday. UCF has won three straight to pull into third place in the AAC, behind National No. 2, Cincinnati, and 8-1, 6-0 Houston. SMU thought it would be the team to challenge Cincy for the top spot before the Mustangs lost their last two to fall a half-game behind UCF.
SMU thought it would be the team to challenge Cincy for the top spot in the league after winning their first seven games. The Mustangs have dropped their last two, however, to fall into fourth, a half-game behind UCF. Without further ado, let’s take a look into the college football odds and how you should be wagering over at the top-rated sportsbooks.
UCF Knights vs. SMU Mustangs
Saturday, November 13, 2021 – 12:00 PM EST at Gerald Ford Stadium
Hobbled on the Sideline
A team never wants to suffer a major injury, but if it has to happen, the head coach is probably a good candidate to take the hit. UCF’s Gus Malzahn is on crutches after fracturing his tibia and will be coaching from a golf cart on the practice field. The injury news from the guys who will be wearing helmets and pads is far more encouraging, at least for one key offensive player.
Wide receiver Jaylon Robinson has missed the last six games after hurting his knee on Sept. 17. He was available in emergency situations (which didn’t come up) last week, but it sounds like he’ll be a full go for SMU.
“There’s a good chance he’ll be on the field playing and ready to go,” Malzahn said “He was healthier than he was the week before. He’s a playmaker. That’s really good for us.” It sounds like two other contributors on offense will be less likely to participate. Running back Isaiah Bowser left last week’s game with an ankle sprain, and he didn’t practice early in the week.
“We’ll see how he does,” Malzahn said. “It’s hard to say.” Quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who broke his collarbone in September, is still on the mend. Malzahn said he hoped to have his veteran passer back by the end of the season.
Mixing Things Up
SMU’s slump has coincided with rumors that its head coach, Sonny Dykes, was working on a return to the Big 12. Dykes went to Texas Tech and got his coaching start on the staff of his father, Spike, who was head coach of the Red Raiders.
When Texas Tech’s job came open earlier this season, Dykes, who had orchestrated the fast start for SMU, was a natural candidate. That job was filled over the weekend, but now Dykes is being linked to another opening, at TCU.
Dykes has denied the rumors and pooh-poohed their impact as a distraction for the team. "I don't care about that stuff," he said. "I promise you there's not one person in the locker room that's thought one second about any of that, or it affected anybody's performance, or my performance or anybody else's. To insinuate that, I think that's reflective of who insinuates that. Do you know what I'm saying? Not what we're doing."
What Dykes is doing is tinkering with an offense that has been prolific so far this year. SMU’s top three receivers have combined for 130 catches, 1,803 yards, and 21 touchdowns and are a major reason why quarterback Tanner Mordecai has already set the school record for touchdowns in a season (34).
Despite Mordecai’s success, Dykes is considering giving true freshman quarterback Preston Stone some snaps on Saturday. Stone is the highest-rated recruit SMU has landed since the school received the death penalty in the 80s.
“We want to get him in the game and see what he can do,” Dykes said. “Every game is different. There’s always a flow of the game. Sometimes it’s good if your starting quarterback can take a breath sometimes and stand on the sidelines. … Our goal is to try and get Preston in the game and just kind of see what he does and how he does and get him some experience.”
SMU has been scuffling and a change at quarterback for a series or two could be just the spark the team needs to get back on track. Or it could backfire spectacularly. For your NCAAF pick, with the sheer offensive talent on the Mustangs, look for the change, or the mere threat of it, to take Mordecai to another level.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.