SMU vs. Tulane kicks off this Saturday (12/2/23) at 4:00pm EST in New Orleans Louisiana as the host site for the American Athletic Conference Championship. Get SMU vs. Tulane predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the under 47.5 as points should come at a premium against two stout defenses.
SMU Vs. Tulane Prediction
It’s a battle of two conference undefeated teams as both SMU and Tulane went a perfect 8-0 in conference play. While this game features plenty of exciting players against two stout defenses, it lost some of its polish when the heart-breaking news of quarterback Preston Stone was released. It was announced shortly after their last game against Navy that SMU quarterback Preston Stone will miss the rest of the season with a broken fibula.
A heartbreaking moment, yet the game moves on as backup quarterback Kevin Jennings is now expected to take starting duties. He’s been pretty limited with his exposure, only throwing for 224 yards and three touchdowns on 24 attempts so far this season. Not throwing an interception is certainly enlightening, yet the small sample size hardly gives us anything to work with. Luckily for Jennings, SMU’s offensive success is geared towards their ground game.
Already calling a Rush Play Rate at the 38th heaviest rate in the nation, SMU may opt into a heavier dose of the run in order to limit turnover worthy plays with their backup quarterback and limit the amount of Tulane offensive possessions. That plays directly lends itself to a lower scoring game as it drains precious time off the clock.
Tulane already excels at defending the run, ranking 26th in Def Rush Success and 24th in Def Rush PPA. Giving up the big gain has been an issue for the Green Wave, clocking in at 64th in Def Rush Explosiveness. That said, SMU is hardly capable of exploiting that area of their defense as they rank 121st in Rush Explosiveness. Giving up the big play will also come at a premium against a stacked box, daring Jennings to beat them with his arm while they sell out to stop the run.
On the other end, downfield success should come at an inconsistent rate for the one-dimensional Tulane offense as they take on a SMU defense that is equipped to slow them down. Tulane calls the run at one of the heaviest rates in the nation, yet only ranks 113th in Rush Success, 102nd in Rush PPA, and 101st in Rush Explosiveness. That plays right into SMU’s front sevens hands as they rank 16th or better in Def Rush Success Rate and Def Rush PPA.
SMU Vs. Tulane Prediction: Under 47.5
SMU Vs. Tulane Best Odds
In light of the Prestoen Stone news, oddsmakers pegged this as Tulane’s game to lose by opening the Green Wave as a -6 favorite. Bettors believe that was an overreaction, backing the Mustangs down to +3.5. A sharp decrease, yet their defense should be able to keep it close enough for backup quarterback Kevin Jennings to stay within scoring pace.
Speaking of scoring pace, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a moderate pace by opening the number at 52.5. With Preston Stone out and forcing the Mustangs to revert to a heavier dose of the run, bettors have been quick to hit the under down to the current number of 47.5. Factor in Tulane’s potential offensive struggles and this has defensive slugfest written all over it.
SMU Vs. Tulane Key Matchups
Can SMU’s secondary contain Tulane’s quarterback Michael Pratt?
Michael Pratt Vs. SMU’s Secondary
It’s not just enough to slow down Tulane’s ground game as their quarterback Michael Pratt is more than capable of burning opposing secondaries. Pratt has put together a solid season so far by throwing for 2,168 yards, 21 touchdowns, and four interceptions. While they don’t throw at a high rate, Tulane’s pass attack still clocks in at 12th in Pass Success Rate and 23rd in Pass PPA.
#Tulane QB Michael Pratt will be a popular option for teams that are looking to take a shot on a Day 3 QB.
Lots of likable traits there already. Has already accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/OBBDC1qxD3
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 24, 2023
Luckily for SMU, they are more than capable of holding their own on the back end as their secondary ranks sixth in Def Pass Success Rate and fourth in Def Pass PPA. That spells doom for a Tulane offense who already struggles to generate consistency on the ground, now having to find answers against an impressive coverage unit. Especially since SMU can leave their corners on islands while anchoring their linebackers in the middle in an attempt to crash down on the run.