Thursday, October 18, 2007

Someone Has To Win

The New York Post puts Tulane +6 over SMU. The "Toledo Improvement" seems scheduled to continue.

Obviously, this game feels like the last two road tests. SMU (1-5, 0-2) is in the midst of a disastrous campaign versus expectations- mainly because their defense is circa 2005 Tulane-level bad. So, like with Army and UAB, Tulane is in their class. It is a winnable game- and you’re getting points. Based on that rudimentary logic, I’ve taken the Wave two weeks in a row- and split. Frankly, these three games feaure(d) fair spreads- hard to find a definitive pick.

This week, I am leaning away from Tulane. I’m skittish about the injuries- particularly to the offensive line. I’m querulous about some of the “changes” Toledo made after his stern comments this week to the Advocate- complaining about the penalties and sitting down some guys. The changes are a net plus- I mean, who does it going forward behoove us to learn more about: Phillip Davis or Charles Harris?- but maybe not this week. A new punter on the fly? A new corner?

The vagaries of the schedule are not encouraging. Tulane has not had an off-week this season. This is the third straight road game- and a sequence kicked off by an emotional/ physical LSU tilt. If you assign the Wave a very fair “A” grade for the LSU game, they’ve slipped off that a bit each week: 57 minutes of “B” versus Army, a little less versus UAB. This week features a little more grind, a little more give- and I imagine, a little more slippage.

Two weeks ago, SMU played a strong game with UTEP, a “better” C-USA team- and last week was okay at times versus USM. Both efforts would have gotten them a one score plus win versus Tulane.

Worse, unlike Army or UAB, Mustang quarterback Justin Willis is a true C-USA style player- capable of the big cartoon numbers required to hang 35 points up there if he’s inclined. Our defense hasn’t really been tested by a C-USA offense like this- “cartoon-like”- since Houston- and well, that wasn’t too positive.

The Wave will score north of 20 too. SMU is B-A-D on defense, and Forte will eat them up. But can the inexperienced Scelfo and real inexperienced Moore show enough on the road to get to that fourth/fifth TD needed to be in this thing late? I’m doubtful.

I just don’t think Tulane can keep up. There is going to be pressure to score here, not just methodically play offense with Forte. And the schedule has been hard lately: Jackson, King, McKinney, Kropong, Holt are all evidence of the wear. I mean, I think we’d all feel better about this match-up if the Wave had an off-week to heal up some of these guys.

There is 28+ point game out there this weekend- a hard number for Tulane to catch up to. I doubt they can; I’ll give the six.

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