It was a disaster of a start of the Frisco Bowl, and for new SMU head coach Sonny Dykes, as Louisiana Tech won in a walk. Here are five things that matter.
2017 DXL Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech 51, SMU 10
5. And this is the problem with the bowl season
The time off, the “too many bowls” rant, the coaches leaving, the teams that aren’t quite sharp – they all came into play in a brutally ugly Louisiana Tech win over SMU.
This wasn’t the same Mustang team that was so dangerous and so deadly throughout the season. Even with new head coach Sonny Dykes stepping into the role right away for Chad Morris – who left to take the Arkansas job – the Mustangs couldn’t do anything right. However …
4. Give Louisiana Tech credit for rocking and rolling
SMU was next-level terrible, but the Bulldogs have a whole lot to do with that.
The defense generated pressure early on, it forced the fumbles, it picked off the passes, and it held a killer offense to just 294 yards and a minuscule 3.7 yards per pass. Louisiana Tech apparently really, really wanted this game, and it played like it from the start.
3. The horror … the horror … the turnovers
Again, give it up to Louisiana Tech for making this happen, but SMU was a disaster, giving away three fumbles and with the normally terrific Ben Hicks giving up three picks with just 127 yards and the one lonely touchdown pass to Trey Quinn.
The Bulldogs didn’t give it up, were sharp from the start, and took advantage of every opportunity to score. The defense took the ball away, and the offense put up the points – at least when the D wasn’t doing the part, with Amik Robertson and Darryl Lewis each coming up with a pick six.
2. J’Mar Smith was fantastic
It took a little while for the Louisiana Tech sophomore to settle into the gig, but this was his moment to prove that he’s ready to become a signature star for the 2018 season.
While SMU was screwing up left and right, Smith completed 15-of-23 passes for 216 yards and three scores, and ran for 22 yards and a touchdown without a pick and without a big mistake. He came up with the performance Hicks was supposed to have.
1. Conference USA is really starting to rock
The American Athletic Conference keeps trying to shoehorn itself into the land of the big boy conferences by saying it’s a part of the Power Six. The Mountain West has had its moments, but it hasn’t quite been able to get a seat at the adult table.
Conference USA isn’t even close to being among the Power Five leagues, but it’s making a huge statement this bowl season after a rocky start. Now, with Marshall and Middle Tennessee coming up with strong bowl wins, and with Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech destroying Akron and SMU, respectively, Conference USA is 4-2.
It’s playing with house money when FIU faces Temple and UAB going against Ohio. The league got the big wins it needed.