The SMU Mustangs scored an enormous upset victory at home on Saturday night over the No. 11 ranked Houston Cougars by the final of 38-16. The Cougars entered the game 6-1 and still with a legitimate chance to find themselves in the College Football Playoff if all broke right–especially with a matchup against Louisville still on the schedule. With the win, the Mustangs moved to 3-4 on the season and effectively ended Houston’s Cinderella hopes.
The biggest key to the Mustangs’ victory was their ability to limit dual-threat quarterback Gary Ward Jr.’s rushing attack. He carried the ball 17 times for just three yards. While he would toss two touchdowns through the air, he was unable to keep up with the SMU offensive attack.
SMU jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the back of freshman quarterback Ben Hicks, who rushed for one touchdown on the ground, while tossing three through the air. He would finish the game just 16-for-31 passing, but would throw for 228 yards and picked up the victory.
The three-star quarterback from Midway HS in Waco, Texas, was on the radar of many teams in the state of Texas, including the Cougars during his recruiting process. But on after a May 2014 commitment to join Houston, he de-committed in December 2014, and then committed to SMU on the same day. At the time, the Cougars seemed as if they could recover from the blow, but little did they know that 22 months later, it would send their 2016 season spiraling and crush their hopes at crashing the College Football Playoff.
Houston will still have a chance at a New Year’s Day bowl game if they are able to finish the season as the highest-ranked Group of Five team.