SMU Heads To Orlando For Showdown With UCF

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

Oct. 30, 2012

SMU Mustangs (4-4, 3-1 C-USA) vs. UCF Knights (6-2, 4-0 C-USA)

Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 6 P.M. CT

Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323)

Orlando, Florida

CBS Sports/SMU Radio Network/


Setting The Scene

• In a rematch of the 2010 C-USA Championship Game and a possible preview of the 2012 game, SMU travels to Orlando to tackle C-USA East-leading UCF in a nationally-televised game.

• Saturday's game is the third of three straight contests against future BIG EAST opponents for the Mustangs. SMU, Houston, Memphis and UCF will join the BIG EAST Conference on July 1, 2013. Boise State and San Diego State will become football members in 2013, while Navy becomes a football member in 2015.



• SMU leads the nation in pick-sixes (6) and is tied for the national lead in total takeaways (27) and interceptions (16). The Mustangs rank second in fumble recoveries for TDs (3) and are tied for sixth in total fumble recoveries (11).

Garrett Gilbert enters the game on the heels of back-to-back record-setting performances. Gilbert set a new career-high with four TD throws in SMU's 72-42 win over Houston, and passed for a career-high 353 passing yards and tied a career-high with two rushing TDs as SMU thrashed Memphis, 44-13. Against the Tigers, he had a career-high-tying 71.4 completion percentage (25-of-35), threw a career-long 70-yard pass and closed out the game by going 14-of-14 for 239 yards in the second half.

Zach Line puts the "run" in SMU's Run & Shoot. Line has posted five 100-yard games in 2012, and his 20 career 100-yard games rank second in SMU history to only Eric Dickerson and third among active players. He has totaled 3,751 yards and 40 rushing TDs in his career, both of which rank in the top four among active players.

• SMU is 20-8 in Conference USA games since the start of the 2009 season (6-2, 6-2, 5-3, 3-1) and 13-1 in league games played at Ford Stadium.

• Located in the nation's fifth-largest media market, SMU boasts an impressive resume with 143 Conference Championships, 147 NCAA top-10 finishes, eight NCAA team championships (three in football), over 100 individual NCAA championships, hundreds of All-Americans and one Heisman Trophy Winner. SMU is one of just 20 schools that has both a Heisman Trophy winner and multiple national championships.



• CBS Sports will air the game live nationally on cable. Dave Ryan (PxP), Gino Toretta (analyst) and Evan Washburn (sidelines) will call the game.

Rich Phillips (PBP), John Hampton (color) and Brian Bischoff (sidelines) will call the action on KTCK 1310 AMin Dallas beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT.

• will stream game audio and stats.


About The Knights

• Winners of four straight, the Knights lead C-USA in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense. They also boast the league's top kick and punt returners and their QB, Blake Bortles, leads in passing efficiency.

The Series

• SMU and UCF have met just four times, with the Knights holding a 3-1 series advantage. SMU won last year's meeting in Dallas, 38-17.

The Coaches

June Jones is in his fifth season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 28-32 and his career mark is now 104-73. Jones led SMU to back-to-back Conference USA Western Division Championships in 2009 and 2010, and has led the Mustangs to three straight bowl berths. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the All-State Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.

• George O'Leary is in his ninth year at the UCF helm, where he is 56-53, and is 108-86 in 16 seasons as a head coach overall.

Last Time Vs. The Knights

DALLAS - J.J. McDermott threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns to lead SMU to a 38-17 victory against UCF on Oct. 15, 2011. Cole Beasley caught 10 passes for 134 yards and a TD, and Zach Line rushed for two scores for the Mustangs.

UCF closed to within 24-10 early in the fourth quarter, but on the next play from scrimmage, McDermott hit Der'rikk Thompson with a 72-yard scoring pass.

McDermott was 20 of 31 against the Golden Knights, who came into the game as the only FBS team that had not allowed a passing touchdown.

Richard Crawford returned a second-quarter punt 92 yards for a touchdown for SMU.

The Bruise Brothers

SMU defenders Ja'Gared Davis and Taylor Reed have been impact players since arriving on the Hilltop.

Reed, who entered 2012 on the Lombardi Award Watch List, was All-C-USA in 2011 and on the All-C-USA Freshman Team in 2009. He led SMU with 101 tackles last season, including 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. It marked the second straight season he led SMU in stops. Reed now has 351 career tackles, ranking fifth among all active FBS players and his 224 solo tackles is second among active players. Reed had two picks in SMU's 72-42 win over Houston, returning one for his first career TD.

Davis, who is on the Butkus Award Watch List, is a two-time All-Conference USA selection. He started all 13 games in 2011, notching 83 tackles, including a team-high 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording eight tackles, 2.5 for loss including 1.5 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown against UTEP and later led the team with nine stops in the BBVA Compass Bowl win. In 2012, Davis was huge in SMU's 52-0 win over SFA, notching nine tackles, a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown. At UTEP, Davis returned an interception for a TD, marking his fifth career score (three fumble returns, a blocked FGA return and an interception return). With 17.5 career sacks, Davis ranks 13th among all active players, and his 34 TFL rank 21st among active players.

Both were named preseason All-C-USA in 2012 and were tabbed to Dave Campbell's All-Texas Team.

The Graduate

SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert took 27 credit hours last spring so he could graduate from Texas and be immediately eligible at SMU.

The Gatorade National Player of the Year enrolled at Texas in 2009 and was thrust into the BCS Championship Game against No. 1 Alabama, replacing injured Colt McCoy after five plays. Gilbert threw touchdown passes of 44 and 28 yards to position the Longhorns for a comeback victory. Gilbert then started every game in 2010, passing for 2,744 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two games into the 2011 season, Gilbert suffered a season-ending shoulder injury (torn labrum) and was granted a medical redshirt. He then decided to transfer to the Hilltop.

Gilbert has passed for at least one TD in every game this season. He set a new career-high with four TD throws in SMU's 72-42 win over Houston, and passed for a career-high 353 passing yards and tied a career-high with two rushing TDs as SMU thrashed Memphis, 44-13. Against the Tigers, he had a career-high-tying 71.4 completion percentage (25-of-35) and also threw a career-long 70-yard pass. He was perfect in the second half, going 14-of-14 for 239 yards.

Run (Not Walk) The Line

Zach Line was named first team All-C-USA in both 2010 and 2011, and led the league in rushing both years. Last season, Line suffered a foot injury and missed the last three games of the season but still ranked seventh in the nation in rushing at 122.4 yards per game. He posted eight 100-yard rushing games in 10 games played and led C-USA with 17 rushing touchdowns.

In 2012, Line has posted 135 yards at Baylor, 104 yards against Texas A&M, 177 yards at Tulane, 113 yards versus Houston and 127 against Memphis. His 20 career 100-yard games rank second in SMU history to only Eric Dickerson and third among active players.

Line has 3,751 yards for his career (3rd at SMU/4th among active players). He set a new school record by rushing for five TDs in the win over Northwestern State in 2011, and his 40 career rushing TDs are third all-time at SMU and tied for fourth among active players.

As a high school senior, Line held no FBS offers. That's when Bill Keenist, the Detroit Lions' Senior VP of Communications, decided to help. Keenist's son had played with Line at Oxford High School, and Keenist sent a DVD of Line's exploits to June Jones, a former coach for the Lions. Jones saw what he thought was a linebacker and recruited Line to SMU, but once Jones and the staff started slotting guys into positions, they moved Line to running back and it's safe to say he's there to stay.

With two 1,000-yard seasons, Line is just the fifth player at SMU with multiple 1,000-yard seasons (Reggie Dupard (3), Eric Dickerson (2), Keylon Kincade (2), Alvin Maxson (2)).

Line is joined on the Mustang squad this season by his younger brother, freshman Prescott Line. The PARADE All-American was named "Mr. Football" in Michigan in 2011 and was a two-time state champion wrestler, but figures to back up his older brother in 2012.

My Three `Sons

SMU's wide receiving corps is blessed with a trio of standouts in Darius Johnson, Jeremy Johnson and Der'rikk Thompson.

Darius has been named MVP in back-to-back bowl games; Jeremy caught the game-winning TD in overtime at TCU in 2011 and Der'rikk is a deep threat with five of his six career TDs coming from 29-yards or more out.

Darius is a preseason first-team All-C-USA performer and Biletnikoff Award Watch List member in 2012 after wrapping up 2011 with an MVP performance in SMU's BBVA Compass Bowl win. He has 12 100-yard games in his career, third-best at SMU, and ranks in the top five on the Hilltop in career TDs, catches and yards. With 210 career catches, he's fifth among active players and his 2,553 yards are ninth-best.

Jeremy, a prep quarterback, played in 10 games in 2011 and caught 16 balls for 146 yards and a score. He opened 2012 with a TD grab at Baylor and leads the team with 52 grabs for 531 yards on the year.

Thompson, the cousin of former Mustang great Keylon Kincade, is a speedster who caught a 72-yard bomb against UCF in 2011 and has three long TD grabs in 2012.

The Eastern Block

For SMU senior defensive end Margus Hunt, 2009 was his first year of playing football. His only previous football experience consisted of playing Madden NFL video games.

Hunt set an SMU single-season record and tied for second in NCAA history with seven blocked kicks (4 FG, 3 PAT) as a freshman.

The honorable mention All-C-USA end started 2010 by blocking field goal attempts against Texas Tech and Tulsa, and then blocked a PAT in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Hunt blocked a pair of PATs at Texas A&M, a field goal against UTEP and another field goal against Northwestern State - and earned honorable mention All-C-USA honors in 2011. He wrapped up the season with a dominant performance in the BBVA Compass Bowl win, racking up three sacks and five total tackles.

This season, Hunt broke the NCAA career record when he blocked his ninth career FGA in SMU's win over SFA. He added to his record total with another FGA block at UTEP and also had a PAT block against Texas A&M.

He now has 17 career blocked kicks (10 FGs, 7 PATs), which ties for second in NCAA history (record is 19). The seven career blocked PATs rank second in the NCAA Record Book (record is 8).

He has made his mark at defensive end as well and has 13.5 career sacks and 22.5 career TFL.

Hunt was voted DFW's Top Athlete in a poll this summer and enters 2012 on the Watch Lists for both the Hendricks and Lombardi Awards. He was named the No. 1 athletic "freak" in college football by and was named preseason All-Conference USA by several outlets.

Hunt won gold medals in both the shot put and the discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships, becoming the first athlete ever to win a shot/discus gold medal double.

A Heads-Up Play

During SMU's season opener at Texas A&M in 2011, Aggies defensive back Trent Hunter intercepted a pass and lost his helmet when both Blake McJunkin and Kelly Turner tackled him. With Hunter's head exposed, McJunkin instinctively shielded his opponent with his arms until the play was over.

"It was just a natural reaction," McJunkin told the Houston Chronicle. "When he lost his helmet, it was just the right thing to do, no matter the color of his jersey. I've seen people get hurt in that situation."

McJunkin didn't speak a word of his selfless act to anyone. McJunkin's father, Kirk McJunkin, a former Texas guard and Pittsburgh Steeler, said even after spending the rest of the night with his son and driving back to Dallas with him on Monday, Blake didn't mention anything about the play.

"On Tuesday, someone sent me a link to the play and told me to watch it," McJunkin's father said. "Honestly, it makes me extremely proud because you raise your kids hoping they do the right thing."

"(Shoutout) to Blake McJunkin for looking out for me when my helmet came off during the game. Your (sic) a class act bro. Thanks!," Hunter later tweeted.

For his efforts, McJunkin was selected as the Division I male winner of the NCAA Sportsmanship Award for notable displays of sporting behavior.

Big D In The Big D

Stout defense has been played by Dallas' Team in 2012, as the SMU defense has posted two shutouts in 2012, the first time that has happened at SMU since 1983. SMU leads the nation in pick-sixes (6) and is tied for the national lead in total takeaways (27) and interceptions (16). The Mustangs rank second in fumble recoveries for TDs (3) and are tied for sixth in total fumble recoveries (11).

Against No. 15 TCU, SMU held the Horned Frogs to just 156 yards of total offense. It was the fewest yards for a TCU team since 1997.

SMU then posted a 17-0 win at UTEP, shutting out a Mike Price-coached team for just the second time in his 31-year career. It was the first shutout of UTEP in El Paso since 1996.


I Love a Parade

SMU's 2012 roster features a pair of PARADE All-Americans in Gehrig Dieter and Prescott Line, both of whom signed with the Mustangs in February.

SMU joined Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Florida State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina and Stanford as the only schools with multiple PARADE picks.

While Line has yet to play, Dieter caught three passes for 64 yards and a TD in the season opener and hauled in a 49-yard catch against SFA.

Second Secondary

SMU lost its second preseason starter in the secondary when three-year starting safety Ryan Smith went down with a season-ending injury against TCU. Sophomore J.R. Richardson, slotted as a starter at corner in the preseason, got injured in training camp and is out for the year, leaving the Mustangs a bit thin in the secondary.

The Red Carpet

With the arrival of June Jones, SMU may need to install a red carpet in the Mustang locker room as SMU has become "the place to be" in Dallas. Among the celebrities, legends, pros and former pros that have attended practice or stopped by the stadium are: Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Daryl "Moose" Johnston, Jeff George, Reggie Dupard, Eric Dickerson, Craig James, Jerry Ball, Devin Hester and Deion Sanders.

Former President George W. Bush even visits SMU football practice. Coach June Jones has given the 43rd President a practice schedule and he stops by when he can. On his first visit, Mr. Bush watched about an hour of drills and even put on a red SMU hat for part of his stay.

Jones later Tweeted, "(The President) talked to the guys and told them he will be supporting SMU and Dallas for years to come."

Out Of Line

Last season, SMU boasted the nation's most experienced offensive line, finishing the year with a combined 221 starts on the roster and starting five seniors. The 2012 roster tells a different story, though, as, entering the year, SMU OL returnees had combined for only 36 starts (McJunkin 26, Collins 9 and Free 1).

Pick-6 6-Pack

After returning three interceptions for touchdowns against Houston, SMU has registered six scores on interception returns this season. This puts the Mustangs just two off the NCAA FBS record.

Tribute 23

Prior to the 2009 season, June Jones announced that a deserving student-athlete would be chosen to wear the number "23" on his jersey throughout the season to honor Jerry LeVias for his contributions to America, the sport of football and SMU.

LeVias was the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship in the Southwest Conference. At SMU, LeVias made athletic and academic All-America teams and, in 1966, contributed to the Mustangs' first SWC title in 18 years. He was a consensus All-American in 1968 and was chosen All-SWC in 1966, 1967 and 1968.

Sophomore Stephon Sanders has the honor in 2012. Sanders played in 12 games as a freshman, with five starts late in the year. He had 26 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and three sacks and notched an interception in the BBVA Compass Bowl win.

Big Move To The Big East

SMU will join the BIG EAST Conference in all sports on July 1, 2013.

SMU, Houston, Memphis and UCF will join the BIG EAST Conference in 2013. Boise State and San Diego State will become football-only members in 2013, while Navy becomes a football-only member in 2015.

The BIG EAST will have the largest footprint of any college football conference in the nation, with a coast-to-coast presence.

BIG EAST markets already contain almost one-fourth of all television households in the United States - more than twice as many households as any other conference - and will soon reside in four of the nation's top-five media markets.

Key Plays

SMU's Margus Hunthas developed a friendship with SMU's only other Estonian student, Hando Nahkur. The two enjoy speaking Estonian together, but they also share a love for another language, the language of music. Hunt was taking a beginning piano class last fall when he learned of Hando, a concert pianist studying under SMU's piano artist-in-residence. The two struck up a friendship, both encouraging the other. Both men are champions in their own fields - Hunt in the shot and discus, and Nahkur on the piano.

Hunt attended Nahkur's performances last spring, always researching the pieces being played before the performance. Nahkur also supported Hunt's playing piano as they both worked on pieces by an Estonian composer. Hunt now plays his classical music favorites - Bach Prelude # 1 and Beethoven's "Für Elise" - by memory.

In turn, Nahkur attended the SMU football spring scrimmage and has been in the stands this fall.


Timmy Tutor

Former record-setting Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang is in his first season as a Graduate Assistant, where he helps tutor the Mustang quarterbacks. Chang has been reunited with June Jones and quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison on the Hilltop after spending five years at Hawaii with the coaching tandem.

At UH, Chang was a four-time All-WAC selection, setting an NCAA record by completing 1,388 of 2,436 passes (57.0 percent) for 17,072 yards. He also threw for 117 touchdowns and was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2004.

Taking Hover

Kicker Chase Hover took a risk by leaving Blinn College and walking-on at SMU in 2011.

Hover contacted the SMU staff after his father had read a note in the Dallas Morning News about SMU's concerns in the kicking game. The 2009 Plano West graduate had torn up his knee early in his senior year of high school, so any interest from colleges quickly disappeared. He rehabbed his first year of college (as a teammate of future Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton) and then kicked for Blinn in 2010. He went through two-a-days with Blinn in the summer before things worked out at SMU, where he paid his own way.

This season, at Tulane, Hover tied the SMU record by kicking four field goals in a game, including a career-long 52-yarder, and then hit three field goals and was five-of-five on PATs, tying his career-high with 14 points as SMU topped Memphis, 44-13.

Pony Up-Grades!

SMU has made over $3 million in Ford Stadium improvements since the summer of 2011, including upgrades to the football locker room and team meeting rooms, a new playing surface and a new lighting system.

Renovations included a new team meeting room with stadium-style seating and renovated positional meeting rooms. Changes to the locker room included the creation of a new team lounge, as well as new lockers, updated graphics and audio/visual equipment.

SMU also installed a state-of-the-art Mondoturf 3NX thermo-bonded ecofill artificial turf system. The Mondoturf field is manufactured by Mondo, the global leader in the sports flooring market.

SMU contacted Musco Sports Lighting last September, and Musco's new system has reduced energy consumption 50% and has saved more than 293 metric tons of CO2 from entering the environment.

Great Tailgate

The editors at Southern Living posted a roster of the top 20 Southern schools with the greatest pregame celebrations in their September issue and SMU's Boulevard made the list.

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition at SMU. From the food and drink to the style and traditions, nobody does tailgating quite like the Mustangs. Gameday at SMU is The Boulevard. SMU's beautiful Bishop Boulevard is tailgate central for fun and entertainment.

Along The Boulevard fans can mingle with family, friends and neighbors. They can bring a picnic, fire up a grill for a barbeque or visit the many food vendors stationed along the way.


In Dallas, there was plenty of attention paid to the specially-designed bulletproof vest Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo wore to protect his broken rib last season. Romo wasn't the only one donning bullet-proof protection. Several Mustangs now have special material in their helmets and pads.

Unequal Technologies calls the material it designed a combination of padding and ballistics-grade Kevlar, and boasts that it has developed the No. 1 shock suppression system in the world.

It's a Bird, It's A Plane, It's SUPERFAN

Paul Layne holds an unrivaled Mustang athletics record. He has attended every SMU football game for the last 40 years, even going to Tokyo. He once attended a game dressed in a Halloween costume to disguise his case of adult-onset chicken pox.

Layne's unyielding commitment to SMU football has even posed some challenges for family and friends - like the time his ex-wife remarried. He persuaded her to schedule her wedding on a Friday night, within driving distance of SMU's game at Nevada the following day. So the night before the Mustangs tangled with the Wolf Pack in Reno, Layne attended the wedding in California's Sonoma Valley, then drove 200 miles to catch the opening kickoff.

Starting when Layne attended SMU and was a team cheerleader, he's attended 428 straight games.

Three-Time National Champions

SMU is one of just 20 schools that has both a Heisman Trophy winner (Doak Walker, 1948) and multiple National Championships (1935, 1981, 1982).

The 1935 season was highlighted by an epic showdown between SMU and TCU. The stakes for the game could not have been higher as the Southwest Conference title, a Rose Bowl bid and a National Championship would go to the winner. SMU was 10-0, and TCU, with Sammy Baugh at the helm, was 11-0. It was No. 1 vs. No. 2. The National Broadcasting System sent it live across the country, marking the first such broadcast of a game ever in the Southwest.

SMU won the game, the SWC title and the National Championship.

The Mustang Legend

Legend has it that when Ford Motor Company was preparing to introduce the sports car that would gain fame as the Mustang, it was considering other names such as Cougar, Bronco, Cheetah and Colt.

But during the 1963 football season, SMU took an undersized but quick team to Ann Arbor to play a massive Michigan Wolverine squad. Michigan gained the early advantage, but had to fight off the feisty Ponies for a 27-16 win.

After the game, Ford's Lee Iacocca entered the SMU locker room and addressed the disappointed Mustangs.

"Today," Iacocca said, "After watching the SMU Mustangs play with such flair, we reached a decision. We will call our new car the Mustang. Because it will be light, like your team. It will be quick, like your team. And it will be sporty, like your team."

Ford's new car got its name, and the rest, as they say, is history.


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