The SMU Mustangs and Pittsburgh Panthers square off in this year’s version of the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama.
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These two schools have met five times before, with an even 2-2-1 series. The last meeting came in the 1983 Cotton Bowl, with SMU recording a 7-3 win. Prior to that, the teams met four times between 1938 and 1948.
Our latest Compass Bowl odds list Pitt as the favorite by 3.5 points while the total has been posted at 47 points.
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SMU started hot at 5-1 this season, but lost four of their next five games before finishing off the season with a win over Rice in their final regular season game. The Mustangs finished 3rd in Conference USA (5-3), but were just 2-4 in all road games this season, including a current three-game road losing streak.
Defensively, SMU ranks 54th in the country in points allowed (24 points per game) and allow 351 yards per game (224 passing, 127 rushing) while recording 27 sacks and forcing 14 turnovers two of which were converted to touchdowns (Chris Parks and Ja’Gared Davis, fumbles).
Taylor Reed leads the unit with 93 tackles (16 more than anyone else), while Taylor Thompson has seven sacks and six forced fumbles. Davis and Richard Crawford each have two interceptions and Margus Hunt has four blocked kicks.
The SMU offense ranks just 71st in the nation in scoring (26 ppg) while compiling 396 yards per game (278 passing, 118 rushing).
J.J. McDermott has completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,182 yards with 16 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, while the offensive line allows 27 sacks. Cole Beasley (79 receptions) and Darius Johnson (72) leads the receiving crops with 151 combined catches for 1,952 yards and nine TDs, while Zach Line anchors the running game with 1,224 yards and 17 TDs on 5.9 yards per carry.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Pitt Panthers. They alternated wins and losses in their last six games of the year, and ended up losing their head coach, Todd Graham, to Arizona State. Pitt managed just a 1-3 record on the road this season, but keep in mind that two of those losses (Iowa and West Virginia) came by a combined five points.
Defensively, Pittsburgh ranks 33rd nationally in points allowed (22 ppg) and gives up 355 yards per game (233 passing, 122 rushing) while recording 39 sacks and forcing 20 turnovers one of which was returned for a TD (Antwaun Reed, fumble).
Max Gruder leads this unit with 107 tackles (43 more than anyone else), while Aaron Donald has 10 sacks and Brandon Lindsey has 8.5. K’Waun Williams has posted three forced fumbles.
On offense, Pittsburgh ranks 70th nationally in scoring (26 ppg) while recording 362 yards per game (211 passing, 151 rushing).
Tino Sunseri has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,433 yards and 10 TDs with 10 interceptions, while the offensive line has allowed 56 sacks. Devin Street leads the receiving corps with 48 receptions (13 more than anyone else) for 692 yards and two TDs, while Ray Graham has needed just eight games to lead the team in rushing with 958 yards and nine scores on 5.9 yards per carry and Zach Brown adds 336 yards and five scores on 4.1 yards per attempt.
Compass Bowl Free Pick: SMU +3.5
Pittsburgh isn’t a program with a ton of positive things going for it right now. June Jones has done a great job with SMU, and I think he’ll have them ready for this one. Take the points.
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