SMU vs. Tulane Week 7 Predictions, Odds, Preview

  • October 16, 2020
  • By Jonathan Willis

SMU has picked up right where it left off last year. Sonny Dykes led the Mustangs to their first 10-win season since the program received the death penalty, and they have built off that success with a 4-0 start and a top 20 ranking in both polls coming into Friday night’s game with the Tulane Green Wave.

A win over Tulane this week would set up an enormous AAC battle with No. 8 Cincinnati next Saturday.



Line Movements

  • Spread: SMU -6.5
  • Money-Line: SMU -215, Tulane +185
  • Total: 64.5

QB Shane Buechele and SMU will look to improve to 5-0 on Friday when they visit Tulane for a conference game. (AP)


The Green Wave are looking for their first conference win of the season. Tulane lost at home to Navy as a six-point favorite back on September 19, and they were blasted by Houston last Thursday. Their two wins came against South Alabama and Southern Miss, but they are just 1-3 ATS as their only cover came in the 66-24 demolition of Southern Miss.

Tulane has yet to play an under game this year. The first game for the Green Wave ended up as a push, but their three most recent games have all gone over the total by at least a touchdown. There were a combined 170 points in Tulane’s last two games, leading to oddsmakers raising the total on Friday night.

A narrow 31-24 win over Texas State as a 24.5-point favorite in Week 1 led to some discounting SMU. However, the Mustangs roared back to smash North Texas and Stephen F. Austin in consecutive weeks, covering the spread with wins of 30 and 43 points.

SMU knocked off defending AAC champions Memphis in its first AAC game two weeks ago, squeaking out a 30-27 victory as a short favorite to move to 3-1 ATS on the year.

SMU is known for its high-octane offense, so the total has been set in the 70s for three of the Mustangs’ previous four games. However, the under has cashed in three of those four games, as SMU’s wins against Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, and Memphis saw a combined score between 55 and 57 points.


Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • Overall: 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS, 1-3 O/U

Shane Buechele led SMU’s renaissance last season, and he is the best quarterback in the AAC. Buechele has been fantastic this year, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 9.5 YPA with ten touchdowns and two interceptions. He has shown some mobility too, carrying the ball 11 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.

The Mustangs had one of the best wide receivers in the nation in Reggie Roberson Jr. Roberson averaged 15.4 YPC in 2018, 18.7 YPC in 2019, and he posted 21.5 YPC this season thanks to a monster game against Memphis on October 3.


Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury, so sophomore Rashee Rice and JUCO transfer Danny Gray will look to replace that production.

Tight end Kylen Grayson was a Preseason First Team All-AAC pick, so he should be more involved going forward as well.

Freshman Ulysses Bentley IV has been a home run hitter when he carries the ball, averaging 8.4 YPC thanks to huge games against North Texas and Stephen F. Austin. He was the back-up to T.J. McDaniel coming into the season, but Bentley will carry the load going forward after McDaniel suffered a season-ending injury against Memphis.

This offense is ranked 18th in offensive SP+, but the defense is once again a subpar unit coming in at 78th in defensive SP+. SMU is conceding 5.7 yards per play, and they haven’t been able to get to the quarterback as much as they would like with 11 sacks this season.

UCLA grad transfer Brandon Stephens is one of the national leaders in passes defensed though, with seven break-ups on the season.


  • Overall: 2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 O/U

It wasn’t going to be easy to replace Justin McMillan in HC Willie Fritz’s system, and Tulane has struggled to find the same production out of a quarterback.

Keon Howard started the season under center for the Green Wave, but he was benched after completing just 42.1 percent of his passes for 5.2 YPA.

Freshman Michael Pratt replaced the senior in Tulane’s victory over Southern Miss, and he has been a little better, but he is only completing 45.5 percent of his passes for 6.4 YPA.

However, Pratt isn’t as mobile of a quarterback as Howard. Pratt has been sacked six times and is averaging 1.5 YPC, while Howard is averaging 4.4 YPC.

While Fritz will tell you that he doesn’t run the option, he does like to run the ball more than any other program that doesn’t run the option, running the ball on 62.3 percent of plays so far in 2020.

Along those lines, Tulane uses a stable of running backs. Four different players have at least 25 carries this season, led by Cameron Carroll and Tyjae Spears. Those four backs have combined to average 6.1 YPC on the year, but Spears suffered a season-ending knee injury so Amare Jones and Stephon Huderson will see more action.

The Green Wave don’t throw the ball much, so the only player with at least 100 receiving yards is sophomore Jha’Quan Jackson. No one on Tulane has more than eight receptions, making it impossible for defenses to key on just one guy.

Tulane is ranked 82nd in defensive SP+ coming into Friday’s game. The Green Wave have done a solid job stopping the run, allowing just 3.0 YPC, but the pass defense has been a mess. Opponents are averaging 9.0 YPA against this secondary through four games.

Preseason First Team All-AAC DE/LB Patrick Johnson has been a force with five sacks on the year, and DE Cameron Sample has played well alongside him.



The all-time record between these two teams is 13-13. SMU has never been ahead in this series, but the Mustangs have won five straight and can take the lead over the Green Wave for the first time ever in 2020. The last seven games in this series have seen at least 50 points scored.


SMU capitalized on Tulane mistakes to beat the Green Wave 37-20 in last year’s season finale. The Green Wave had two fumbles, a missed field goal, and turned the ball over on downs four times to lose by 17 points despite outgaining the Mustangs 465-377.

Tulane ran the ball 53 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns on this defense, while Justin McMillan completed 22 of 37 passes for 242 yards. Buechele didn’t put up gaudy numbers, completing just 15 of 27 passes for 180 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, but it was enough to get the victory.


-- SMU is just 1-5 ATS in its last six road games

-- The under has cashed in four straight games when Tulane has been a home underdog

-- The road team is 11-3 ATS in the last 14 games between these two programs


  • Score Prediction: SMU 41, Tulane 27
  • Best Bet: SMU -6.5

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