Tulsa hosted old Conference USA rival Southern Methodist University in what last year was deemed the “Boomtown Showdown” (though that moniker seems to have disappeared this season) to open up conference play, and won 43–40 in an OT thriller. With the win Tulsa makes it three in a row against the Mustangs every year since joining the American Conference.
SMU received the opening kick and proceeded to march down the field with a fast-tempo, no-huddle drive. Just a minute forty-one into the game, after seven plays, the Mustangs led 7–0 on a 2-yard run by Ke’Mon Freemon.
In a somewhat alarming trend, the Golden Hurricane’s offense could not put together any long lasting drives in the beginning of the first quarter. Any time the offense started to get something going, a drop or a short run would end that and TU was forced to punt.
With five minutes left in the first quarter and good field position, Tulsa pushed down the field on the strength of D’Angelo Brewer, but once they got inside the SMU 10, two drops and rush for no gain forced the to settle for a field goal to cut down SMU’s lead to four points.
The Mustangs responded with a touchdown drive of their own. On Tulsa’s 45-yard line Ben Hicks found a completely uncovered Alex Honey who ran it all the way to the endzone for a 45-yard touchdown reception, and a 14–3 lead.
The missed coverage is a little concerning for Tulsa’s secondary. Fortunately they bounced back and played much stronger going forward.
After the ensuing kickoff, on the very next play James Flanders burst through the line and won the footrace into the endzone for a 61-yard touchdown to bring the Golden Hurricane back within four points of SMU.
Through the second quarter both teams traded a pair of field goals for the first 13 minutes bringing the score to 20–16 late in the first half. But with two minutes left, Tulsa started to push their offense again with Evans hitting receivers for 10, 12, 19 and 13 yard passes while Brewer took a long run all the way to the SMU 1 yard line. Senior Raymond Taylor was able to punch it in and Tulsa took their first lead of the game going into the half, up 23–20.
Tulsa went into the half leading with 300 yards of total offense, but SMU was just behind with 280 of their own.
On the opening kickoff of the second half Taylor returned it 67 yards to SMU’s 33 yard line, but Tulsa only lost yards on the drive and had to settle for a long field goal. The Mustangs blocked the attempt and returned it to Tulsa’s 34 yard line. After a personal foul, SMU quarterback Hicks hit Jeremiah Gaines to retake the lead 27–23.
Tulsa regained the lead on the next drive when Dane Evans found Josh Atkinson in the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the third quarter dragged on and on. Neither team could do anything on their drives and the officials kept making questionable calls that were slowing the game down. There were seven total penalties called in the third quarter, five of which were called on one drive.
With nine minutes left in the game SMU took the lead again after intercepting Evans and returning it 45 yards. Then a personal foul against Tulsa gave them an extra 15, resulting a 60 yard swing for SMU.
The Golden Hurricane retook the lead once more with a long touchdown run by D’Angelo Brewer, and tried to hold onto the lead with five minutes remaining in the game.
On the final drive of the game SMU within field goal range, and for some reason Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery let the clock run instead of calling a timeout and giving Tulsa a minute to try and win the game before regulation. SMU kicked the field goal as time expired and for the second time in as many games the Golden Hurricane were going to overtime.
SMU took the first overtime possession but were forced to only a field goal. On Tulsa’s possession Brewer ran it three times to the SMU 14, and just like the Fresno State game, Evans ran it in himself for the game-winning touchdown, giving Tulsa the 43–40 win.
The biggest story of the game for the Golden Hurricane was their running game. They finished with over 300 net yards of rushing and more than double SMU’s 154 total yards rushing. If the offense can just find a way to get the gears working earlier in the game, the Golden Hurricane would have less of an issue with games getting to OT.
Montgomery talked about the battle his team faces every week.
“Our team is just one of those teams that is battling every week, every game. I thought SMU came in here really determined. I thought our guys just kept fighting and kept believing, bowed up when we needed to bow up, and got touchdowns when we needed touchdowns. There are a lot of things that you look at that we’ve got to get better at, but wins are hard to come by in college football, and we got a big one tonight.“
Tulsa (4–1, 1–0) will travel to Houston (5–1, 2–1) to take on the defending AAC Champions next Saturday.