Tonight’s college football slate features one game and that’s the Frisco Bowl featuring Louisiana Tech and SMU. The current line stands as:
SMU (-4, O/U 71) vs. Louisiana Tech
SMU is currently coming off one of their best seasons in recent program history, but they are in a transition period. Chad Morris, the Mustangs coach for the entire season, left for Arkansas. Offensive coordinator Jeff Traylor was going to be the interim head coach, but then he left, which meant newly hired head coach Sonny Dykes will be coaching in the bowl game:
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the hiring as a whole, but having Sonny Dykes coach in this game is strange. I can’t recall a new coach ever coaching in a bowl game only a couple weeks after he was hired. Since 2000, this scenario has only happened once when Brian Kelly was hired at Cincinnati in 2006! Cincinnati and Red Faced Kelly did end up winning that game.
Chad Morris’ play-calling style is similar to Gus Malzahn while Dykes is more similar to Mike Leach. Those two offenses aren’t that different, but they do have much different playbooks. Dykes claims he will be running Chad Morris’ playbook, a playbook he doesn’t have:
News Star-“I’m going to sit down with [QB] Ben [Hicks] today. I told Ben he may be the only player-coach in college football right now. He’s going to teach me the offense.”
On top of not knowing the plays he will be calling, Dykes has had to try to create some sort of a recruiting class with the early signing period starting the same day as this game. To make things worse, Dykes wasn’t a popular hire. The players and fans wanted to stay in house and hire Jeff Traylor. Instead, SMU went with Dykes, who did absolutely nothing at California before being fired. Not a lot is going SMU’s way.
The Mustang’s problem all season have been their defense, which ranks 121st in S&P+. Louisiana Tech isn’t great on offense, but their 56th ranked offense is good enough to put up points. Specifically, the Bulldogs 27th ranked rushing attack, that ranks 13th in rushing success rate, will find success against SMU’s 98th ranked rush defense that is bottom 30 in allowing successful running plays. I’m looking forward to seeing 5’6, 203-pound bowling ball of a RB, Boston Scott, run through SMU.
SMU’s defense struggles with defending against the pass as well, ranking in the bottom 30 in passing S&P+, IsoPPP, and success rate. Louisiana Tech’s profile has them with a 71st ranked passing offense, 69th in success rate and 73rd in IsoPPP. The average passing attack will have a chance to break out.
Louisiana Tech has a chance to control the clock if all goes according to plan. They rank 39th in overall success rate, a place where SMU’s defense ranks 104th. This will allow LT to have long drives that will demoralize SMU.
SMU has it’s advantages. They rank 8th in overall offense and Louisiana Tech ranks 87th, but will that matter? How much of that 8th ranking was due to Chad Morris and Jeff Traylor’s play calling? How focused is SMU? They finished the season 1-6 ATS and losing 3 out of their last 4. Are these players going to give 100% for Sonny Dykes, a coach they have no connection to? Sure, younger players will because they want to impress their coach for next year, but what about NFL bound WR Courtland Sutton?
This is a big game for Louisiana Tech for recruiting purposes as well. The Dallas Fort Worth area is a huge recruiting ground for LT (7 of their 2018 recruits are from DFW), so winning this game means more than just receiving a trophy.
I’m a big fan of Louisiana Tech getting the points here. They will control the ball on the ground and their 24th ranked defense against explosive plays will quiet down the SMU offense that relies on big, explosive plays. GO DAWGS!
Official #JackieGambling Picks:
2017 Season: 59-44-1, 57.2%
Bowl Season: 1-1
Louisiana Tech +4