What We Learned from the SMU Mustangs’ 45-31 Win over the Houston Cougars

Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Houston Cougars may not want to come to Dallas again as a ranked team. For the second time in three years, the SMU Mustangs defeated the 17th ranked Houston Cougars. After a 90-minute lightning delay, running back Ke’Mon Freemon’s eight-yard touchdown run was the decisive score in the 45-31 win. It was the fourth overall victory for the Mustangs, third in the conference, and it pulled SMU within one game behind Houston for first place in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference.


The Mustangs took the Cougars best punch and punched back

On two occasions, the Cougars looked primed to overtake the Mustangs, but each time SMU found a way to respond. The first barrage came after the Cougars quickly cut into the 17-point deficit. The momentum swung in Houston’s direction after scoring on offense and then turning an SMU turnover into seven points.
But a 13-play 91-yard drive capped by running back Ke-Mon Freeman’s six-yard touchdown pushed the lead back to 10The Mustangs’ carried that fightback spirit into the second half as it answered two scoring drives by the Cougars to secure the victory.

The Defense is coming together

682, 570, and 406. Those were the total yards gained by the Houston Cougars offense its last three games. But, against SMU on Saturday, it was only able to generate 365 yards. Linebacker Kyran Mitchell led the way with seven tackles and two sacks as the Mustangs’ defense limited Houston to 15-first downs and forced two turnovers. The defense still needs to work on consistency, but on Saturday, it showed the potential to be a difference maker for this team.

Ben Hicks is resilient 

Few quarterbacks could bounce back after losing their starting job to a freshman, but Ben Hicks took the demotion in stride. He worked on his game and has been playing at a high level over the past three weeks. The 318-yard and four touchdown performance against the Cougars was his second consecutive 300-yard game, and the fourth time he has had at least two touchdowns. What made the performance against the Cougars stand out more was his ability to lead the offense to scores. Each time Houston got within seven points, Hicks responded by leading the SMU offense on double-digit drives to extend the lead.

The Mustangs travel to Connecticut looking for a second consecutive win as it takes on a UConn Huskies team that is 1-8 on the season. Last season the Mustangs easily defeated the Huskies 49-28, and they look to replicate those results against a Huskies team that has yet to win a conference game. This is a must-win game for an SMU program looking for back-to-back bowl appearances.


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