The SMU Mustangs (0-2) are facing the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (1-1) later this afternoon in what should be a one-sided affair.
With that in mind, this keys to victory piece is going to be a little different than what you’d see me write if it was against a team like Ohio State.
Michigan’s keys to victory versus SMU
Yes, it’s that simple. And this is the only time I will use this as a key to victory the rest of the season. SMU isn’t very good. Maybe they’ll be a little better than bad today, but it won’t be good enough to win.
I’ll give them credit for having a 9-0 lead against TCU before they imploded and lost 42-12. As long as the Michigan bus makes it to the stadium on time, the Wolverines will win. A key to victory is the bus driver getting the team to Michigan Stadium safely, I suppose.
Don’t let up:
Even if Michigan is the far superior team, I don’t want to see any form of taking it easy in this game once their foot is on the throat of the Mustangs. This doesn’t mean to pass the ball a bunch when they’re up huge in the second half, but what it does mean is for the team to have a tenacious effort for all four quarters.
The defense should have a goal to get themselves a goose egg, don’t even give them one damn point. That should be the goal after allowing three points to Western Michigan.
The offense should make it a goal to not allow a quarterback sack, to protect Patterson enough so he throws for over 200 yards, open large enough holes where the running game gets over 200 yards as well.
In the end it doesn’t matter how you win, but to gain a ton of yards, score a ton of points, and pitch a shutout on defense would be a kick-ass series of events.
Make your field goals:
Kicker Quinn Nordin has already proven to be tough as nails for his position, he’s already kicked more than a handful of field goals over 40 and 50 yards successfully. But there’s been a level of inconsistency that must change.
Nordin went through a four game stretch last season where he missed a field goal or an extra point. And last week Nordin missed a field goal against WMU.
While Nordin is a very good college kicker, you cannot afford a cold streak at that position. While this isn’t necessarily a key to victory for the game today, it’s a big key against better opponents, so we should be taking note of this issue now rather than later.
Keep the speedsters in check
Running back Braeden West is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and is a reliable receiving target out of the backfield. Receiver James Proche is a speedster who has shown he doesn’t back down against top tier competition. In 2017, Proche gave undefeated Central Florida a run for their money, hauling in 7 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown.
These are the two main weapons of the SMU offense. If West and Proche are shut down, the SMU offense will have little success.
LET IT FLY
This is simply wishful thinking, but who doesn’t love an aerial assault? Shea Patterson has delivered two beautiful bombs to Nico Collins so far this season, and seeing more of that would be nice. Michigan can win this game with dinking and dunking, but chucking a few deep would let the fans see the true arm talent Patterson has. I’m of the inkling he can consistently make big time throws deep downfield, but there’s only one way to find out... LET IT FLY!
The biggest victory of this game besides the one on the scoreboard will be Michigan walking out of this game with no serious injuries. “Next man up” is a nice philosophy, but it’s never a good situation for a team to be in.