A Mustangs win tonight would not have warranted the field-storming by SMU students and fans after the game. In 2017 SMU and Houston were much more evenly matched coming into Saturday's 35-22 Houston revenge win. That makes the loss that much tougher for the visiting Mustangs, who had hopes of moving to 5-1 on the season.
The slim difference in talent made a large impact on the scoreboard early in the game as the teams exchanged scores. Unfortunately it was SMU kicking two field goals and scoring one touchdown while the Cougars found the end zone on three occasions.
SMU did not finish drives and this point was punctuated as the first half expired as Josh Williams missed a field goal from 37 yards out to keep the deficit at nine points entering the final 30 minutes of play.
Trailing for all of the second half, SMU abandoned the run in order to draw level with Houston. But when SMU knocked on the door, Houston shooed them away time after time. The Mustangs most notable missed opportunities were a fourth-and-five drop by Cortland Sutton on the Houston 30-yard-line and a pair of Ben Hicks red zone interceptions on SMU's last two drives.
The only positive that can come out of this game defensively is that SMU knows exactly what it needs to work on for its next game. Houston players seemed to be covered in butter as Mustang after Mustang missed tackles. Houston running back Duke Catalon took advantage of this with runs of 52 and 45 yards for a grand total of 177 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 touches.
What furthered SMU's defensive struggles was third down opportunities. Houston converted seven of its first nine and eight of 12 overall, extending drives and directly leading to touchdowns in two occasions.
Saturday marked a pair of unfortunate firsts for SMU in 2017. Not only did the Mustangs not record a sack after leading FBS in that category coming into the game but the explosive offense did not break 36 points for the first time as well.
In a game where two evenly-matched teams took the field, SMU had more time of possession and more total yards but still never threatened to win at almost any point in the second half.