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Preview: WSU Cougars Hit The Road Against SMU

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The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 3:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: CBSCSN. Home Record: WSU 1-0, SMU 1-0. Away Record: WSU 0-1, SMU 0-1. Neutral Record: WSU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: WSU 0-0, SMU 1-0. Series Record: Washington State leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The Cougars will invade the Lone Star State when Washington State takes on the SMU Mustangs this Saturday afternoon at Ford Stadium.

Last season the Cougars erased a 17-point deficit against SMU, to grab a 30-27 victory over the Mustangs in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Since taking over in Pullman, Paul Wulff's tenure at WSU has lacked victories, and even though the Cougars earned a 23-22 decision over Montana State this past weekend, it was only the fourth win for coach Wulff, who is in his third season at Washington State.

The Mustangs' 2010 campaign began with a tough, 35-27 setback to Texas Tech on the road. However, coach June Jones led his team to victory this past weekend, as the Mustangs defeated UAB, 28-7, in their Conference-USA opener.

The Cougars might have won this past weekend, but the team needed 16 straight fourth quarter points just to slide past Montana State.

Although it was not a dominating performance the Cougars still looked much better than they did in their opening loss to Oklahoma State. James Montgomery, who rushed for just 32 yards against the Cowboys, rumbled for 116 yards and one score on 20 totes against Montana State.

The ground game showed improvement in the second matchup, but the play of quarterback Jeff Tuel was still inconsistent. Tuel did throw for 204 yards and tossed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the signal caller also threw an interception and was sacked three times.

The Cougars surrendered 65 points in their season-opening loss, so clearly there was not much coach Wulff could take from that matchup. The defense was atrocious in every aspect, and was overmatched from start to finish.

The defense, however, performed better against Montana State, but the unit still had some issues overall.

After being gashed by Oklahoma State on the ground the Cougars still had some issues against the run, but managed to hold Montana State to just 123 yards on 4.1 yards per attempt.

The play against the pass was also inconsistent. On one end the Cougars allowed 284 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but on a positive note the team collected three interceptions, two of which came late in the fourth quarter.

By the final whistle the Cougars were victorious, but the defense was not at its best, and if this unit does not sew up its weak spots then winning might be tough for Washington State in 2010.

The Mustangs were not at their best offensively in their opener, and it cost them in the win column. However, coach Jones' squad put forth a much better effort in their victory over UAB.

The ground game, which was maintained by Texas Tech in the opener, exploded against the Blazers, racking up 247 yards on a whopping 6.7 yards per attempt. Zach Line led the way for the Mustangs with 122 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Kyle Padron added 66 yards.

Padron also had a solid showing with his arm, tossing two touchdowns to go along with 145 yards. After a sub par first game, Padron looked much better against UAB, and should continue to improve throughout the season. His main target against the Blazers was Darius Johnson who hauled in both scores and finished 45 yards on seven receptions.

A big difference in the two matchups was the play of the defense. After surrendering 35 points in a loss to Texas Tech, coach Jones's defense came out against UAB with a tougher mentality and a better approach.

Texas Tech torched SMU's secondary in the opener, but the Mustangs put forth a better showing against UAB, limiting the Blazers to just 153 yards through the air. SMU also forced two turnovers in the victory and added three sacks as well.

The defense also did an exceptional job against the run, holding its conference foe to just 108 rushing yards, and after two games the Mustangs are limiting the opposition to just 90.0 ypg on a mere 2.9 yards per carry.

The Cougars have not been impressive offensively this season, despite coming off a victory. On top of that, Washington State has just one road win since the start of 2007 and it is unlikely coach Wulff's squad will corral a win in Dallas this weekend. Look for Padron to have his best start of the season, as he leads the Mustangs to the win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 27, Washington State 17