By The Sports Xchange SMU became bowl eligible with last week’s comeback win over Tulsa, but coach Chad Morris was nowhere satisfied. He emphasized Tuesday that the Mustangs will need to put together a complete game Saturday if they want upset No. 15 Central Florida. SMU quarterback Ben Hicks passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Mustangs rally from a second-half deficit to knock off Tulsa 38-34. SMU improved to 6-2, the Mustangs’ best start since 1984. They are bowl eligible for the first time since 2012.
We reached a milestone win in our program to become bowl eligible,” Morris told reporters Tuesday. “It’s not the final goal; it’s not that we’ve achieved exactly what we set out for this season. There’s more ahead; there’s a lot of ball ahead, but we had to get to this point in this program over the last two and half seasons that we’ve been together, and to be able to reach this point in the month of October was a huge stride. “It takes games like that the last two weeks to create a belief, and we were able to do that. We are on track. We’re doing some really good things, but we’ve got a lot of ball left.”
Central Florida beat Austin Peay 73-33 last week, setting a program record for most points scored in a game. The Knights improved to 7-0 for the first time in school history and took over sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division, thanks to South Florida’s loss to Houston. Despite the prolific performance, UCF coach Scott Frost said his team had a lot to improve on this week ahead of what is a big game in the AAC. “It’s great when you can learn some lessons that you need to learn in a win, rather than making some mistakes and have it cost you a game,” Frost said Tuesday. “We understand the challenge of this game. We’re going to play a good team on the road, with a very sound and aggressive defense, and an offense that can score a lot of points with some very good players. The guys know what we have in front of us.” Frost and his wife are expecting the arrival of their first child at some point this week. Frost has said that if the baby is born on Friday or Saturday, he will not travel with the team to Dallas. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander will coach the team, if Frost is unavailable. “I’m 42 years old, so I’m going to be an old dad, but I’m blessed that it’s coming,” Frost told the Orlando Sentinel. “We’ll see how it works out. I hope she’s smart enough as a coach’s wife not to have it happen Friday or Saturday so we can go try to get this win. But your first child being born is only going to happen to you once in your life and I definitely want to be there.” With or without their head coach, the Knights will be bringing an elite offensive attack that is averaging 51.0 points per game, tops in the nation. The Knights are fifth in the nation in total offense, averaging 529.7 yards per game, and have scored 30 or more points in each of their games this season. McKenzie Milton is completing 72.9 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and three interceptions. This week, Milton was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, which is awarded to the best player in collegiate football. Milton’s favorite target, receiver Tre’Quan Smith, has nine touchdowns and is averaging 19.2 yards per catch. “This is one of the top offensive teams in the country,” Morris said of the Knights. “They’re averaging 7.8 yards per play. Every time they snap the ball, it’s almost eight yards.” SMU ranks 100th in total defense and was shredded by a two-win Tulsa team that racked up 458 yards against the Mustangs. For the second straight week, SMU got off to a slow start and was forced to rally from behind in the second half. “We can’t continue to do this, especially against the opponent like we’re getting ready to face this week,” Morris said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to put a complete game together.” UCF is one of five remaining unbeaten teams. The Knights are the only of those teams to have won each of their games by double figures.