Dec. 4, 2013
SMU Mustangs (5-6, 4-3 American) vs. No. 15 (AP)/16 (BCS) UCF Knights (10-1, 7-0 American)
Saturday, December 7, 2013 - 11 a.m. CT
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) - Dallas, Texas
ESPN/SMU Radio Network
Students can show their report card at the SMU Ticket Office and claim a free ticket to the game. A special group rate is available for parents. Call 214-SMU-GAME for more information.
Setting The Scene
SMU hosts league-leading UCF in the regular-season finale on Saturday, Dec. 7, in an 11 a.m., ESPN-televised match-up. SMU enters the game looking for its sixth win and hoping to extend its school-record streak of four straight bowl berths.
For the second straight season, SMU enters its final regular-season game needing a win to secure bowl eligibility. SMU topped 2012 C-USA Champion Tulsa, 35-27, in last season's finale at Ford Stadium, propelling the Mustangs to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, where they routed Derek Carr and Fresno State, 43-10.
The Mustangs are 17-2 in league games played at Ford Stadium since the start of the 2009 season.
SMU QB Garrett Gilbert is questionable for the UCF game with a knee sprain. Despite the hit to his season averages due to missing half of the USF game, Gilbert still leads the AAC and ranks second in the nation in total offense and third in completions per game and passing yards. Over his last five games prior to the injury, Gilbert averaged 459 yards of total offense and 420 passing yards, with 17 TDs and only one interception, and was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times.
If Gilbert misses the game, SMU would be led by Neal Burcham, a redshirt freshman, who saw his first extended action at USF and his first start at Houston. Prior to his senior prep season, Burcham shared MVP honors at the ESPN Elite 11 Showcase with current Florida State redshirt frosh Jameis Winston.
Mustang receivers Jeremy Johnson and Darius Joseph are third and fourth in catches per game nationally at 9.8 and 8.8 grabs per game respectively, and all four starting Mustang receivers have at least two 100-yard games in 2013 - Johnson (6), Keenan Holman (4), Joseph (3) and Der'rikk Thompson (2).
SMU LB Randall Joyner leads the Mustangs with 92 stops on the year despite missing two games with an injury. He ranks second in The American and 14th nationally with 10.2 tackles per game and leads the league and ranks 12th in the nation in forced fumbles.
SMU will honor seniors Thomas Ashcraft, Kenneth Acker, Joe Fontana, Garrett Gilbert, Ben Gottschalk, Brandon Henderson, Keenan Holman, Marcus Holyfield, Chase Hover, Jeremy Johnson, Randall Joyner, Mike Loftus, Mike O'Guin, Chris Parks, Kenneth Pope, Daniel Roundtree, Jay Scott and Ryan Walker in a post-game ceremony.
After finishing 2012 with a +9 turnover margin (10th in the nation), SMU has struggled with turnovers in 2013 and is -7 on the year (107th nationally).
About The Knights
Likely headed to a BCS Bowl, No. 15 UCF clinched a share of the first American Athletic Conference title with its win over USF last week and can clinch the outright conference title with a win at SMU Saturday or a Louisville win over Cincinnati on Thursday.
SMU and UCF have played just five times, with the Knights holding a 4-1 series edge. SMU's lone win in the series came in the last meeting in Dallas, a 38-17 victory in 2011.
June Jones is in his sixth season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 36-40 and his career mark is now 112-81. Jones led SMU to back-to-back Conference USA Western Division Co-Championships in 2009 and 2010, and has led the Mustangs to four straight bowl berths. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the Allstate 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 17th season as a head coach, having compiled a 122-89 record overall. He is in his 10th season at the UCF helm, where he is 70-56.
Full gameday information is available here.