Houston tries to remain competitive in AAC, visits SMU

Houston will be looking to remain in the picture for a conference title when it travels up I-45 to play longtime rival SMU on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference game in Dallas.

The Cougars (5-3, 3-1 AAC) and Mustangs (4-4, 2-2) won their most recent outings last Saturday, with Houston beating South Florida 42-27 and SMU producing a 45-34 win at Tulsa.

Houston has won three straight games following a 27-24 home overtime loss to Tulane in its conference opener on Sept. 30 and remains tied with UCF and Cincinnati for second place in the AAC standings.

“This is huge game — we know it’s a big game, they know it’s a big game,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Throw the records out — it’s gonna be hard. It’ll be tough. We’re all playing for a lot. We’ve got to prepare better this week than we did last week.”

Quarterback Clayton Tune passed for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the Cougars’ victory over South Florida, setting a single-game career-high 83.7 completion percentage.

In his past three games, Tune has racked up 88 completions for 1,007 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. He also recorded four-plus touchdowns in a game for the fifth time in his career, doing so in each of the last two games.

SMU amassed 468 yards of total offense against Tulsa last week. The Mustangs were boosted by a 75-yard TD pass from Preston Stone to Rashee Rice on their first play from scrimmage, and running back Tyler Lavine ran for 72 yards and three TDs.

The Mustangs, who have two wins in their past three games, have to capture two of the next four games in order to be bowl eligible.

“Our guys have been so resilient,” SMU coach Rhett Lashlee said. “We talk about all the injuries, all the guys that are out, all the close losses, and they just don’t quit. They don’t flinch.”

The Mustangs expect to have starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai back after he missed the Tulsa game while in concussion protocol. Stone, Mordecai’s much ballyhooed backup, broke his collarbone in the win last week and will be out for the rest of the season.

–Field Level Media