Gerald J. Ford Stadium
|Trip Dates||11/14/2018 – 11/17/2018|
|School||Southern Methodist University|
|Visiting Team||Memphis Tigers
Pre-game Record: 6-4
|Home Team||SMU Mustangs
Pre-game Record: 5-5
|Game Time (ET)||9:00 PM Eastern (8:00 PM local)|
|Weather||58 & Clear|
|Attendees||Jarrett & Al|
|Jarrett’s Pick||Memphis Tigers
(31 and 16 record)
|Al’s Pick||Memphis Tigers
(24 and 23 record)
|Length of Game||3:37|
|Seat Location||50 yard line, 30th row (or so)|
|Miles Traveled||1,586 (split with North Texas)|
|Photo Album||Click here for the SMU Photo Album|
This trip report is a continuation from the North Texas trip report.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library
We awoke on Friday and headed out of Denton to SMU. If I do not mention it elsewhere in this trip report, the traffic in Dallas, especially around SMU, sucks.
The first stop is the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which is located on the SMU campus. The library was excellent and I highly recommend it. There is a very well done exhibit on 9/11 with a lot of interesting documents on display. The library also contains a replica of the oval office that you can tour and even sit at President Bush’s desk. What I found most interesting, was the phone on the desk and the numbers on speed dial. Dominos was #1, Laura was #2, and someone named Destiny was #3.
The seasonal Christmas display which was across from the permanent display had the feel of the Bush’s cleaning out the attic and sending over the stuff they did not want. But the library was very interesting and I do recommend a visit and the admittance fee.
Lunch and Old Friends Part II
After the library, we headed out to Plano, Texas (in more Dallas traffic), to meet one of Al’s old work friends for lunch. This year really had the ring of the old friend tour. I certainly hope this isn’t a farewell tour.
After lunch, we headed to the SMU campus to do a bit of purchasing and wandering. I secured the shot glass, something that should be an easy purchase but has been quite challenging this year, and then we moved on to walking around the campus.
SMU is a very nice campus. It is quite picturesque and was all set up for some serious tailgating. We were able to take in a full amount of SMU scenery and “scenery”. Both of which was quite attractive.
We made our way down to Gerald J. Ford Stadium and the Doak Walker statue. This North Texas and SMU trip was very heavy on the statues. Also, I am definitely getting a presidential theme on this campus.
After a quick circle around the stadium, we headed back to the tailgating area. There is a main boulevard that had many tailgating tents set up with the distinctive red and blue SMU colors. The tailgating turn out seems a bit subdued given the Friday night and the cold temperatures, but it is easy to see that if this was a nice Saturday afternoon, this could be a very nice environment. We headed away from the stadium and back towards the heart of campus and got to the fraternity, sorority, and cheerleaders tailgating area. This had a bit more activity and the cheerleaders were out in full force as game time was approaching.
As it was getting close, we headed off to the hotel to layer up for the game, especially, since the few miles to the hotel was going to take 30 minutes in heavy Dallas traffic.
We layered up at the hotel and headed back out to Gerald J. Ford Stadium. After fighting yet more Dallas traffic, and it was Dallas traffic and not SMU game traffic, we arrived ready for more cold weather and high octane football.
We purchased our tickets and headed inside. In a continuation of the friends tour, we had a new friend to meet as Road to CFB was in the house. Brett Gibbons is on a similar mission to ours and he was in Dallas for the same doubleheader. He reached out when he saw our schedule and we set up to meet at SMU. It was great getting to know Brett and spending some time talking about our common travels, venues, and other life stuff. There are a few of us insane people out there on similar missions and we are getting to meet a handful of them over the years. Maybe we will have a convention sometime. And it will be in Vegas. And it will be tax deductible. Anyway, we wish you luck Brett and it was nice meeting you. I hope our paths cross again and when you are in the NY area for Army, Temple, or Rutgers, let us know. You can follow Brett and Road to CFB at https://roadtocfb.com/ and on twitter at @RoadtoCFB.
The game kicked off and SMU received the opening kick and somehow managed to run 12 plays but go only 31 yards, so had to punt. Memphis went 62 yards on its first play down to the SMU 24, but would throw an INT to end the drive. SMU marched 76 yards down to the Memphis 7, but was stuffed on 4th and 1. But the SMU defense held and got the ball back for its offense, which would go on a 10 play drive for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. This was a 1Q dominated by SMU both in number of plays and time of possession.
But this would end at the start of the 2Q due to self inflicted wounds. The quarter began with Memphis driving to the SMU 4 yard line and missing a field goal. And the momentum for SMU continued. But Memphis responded by holding SMU to a three and out. In one of the worst coaching blunders I have ever seen, with all the momentum, SMU called for a fake punt from their own 24 yard line. The play was doomed and was fumbled. Three plays later Memphis had a 7-3 lead that they would never give up. SMU would add a safety later in the 2Q for a fantastic halftime score of 7-5.
After trading punts to open the 3Q, Memphis seized the game with a 5 play TD drive to go up 14-5. The teams would trade 10 play drives that ended with interceptions before SMU made it interesting with a TD to make it 14-12. And we enter the 4Q with a 2 point game.
It would not take long for Memphis to make it 21-12. And after an SMU drive that went nowhere, Memphis drives 53 yards to go up 28-12. SMU would gamely respond, cutting the lead to 28-18, but that is where it would end. SMU was simply too one dimensional on offense to put much of a threat into the Memphis defense as the Mustangs were unable to generate any kind of sustained rushing attack yielding 25 yards on 26 carries. While the balanced Memphis attack kept the SMU defense guessing after the SMU domination of the 1Q.
But the turning point was clearly the fake punt in the 2Q. I really do not know what the SMU coaching staff was thinking. The risk reward in that call was severely lacking and offered very little upside for the risk taken given that SMU had all of the momentum.
Other game notes:
Post game food was where else, In-N-Out burger, and it was as good as expected.
I really have no idea what we were planning when making our flights, but we had a late flight on Saturday. I am sure that we had plans for Saturday like playing golf, but those plans evolved into, what else, watching college football. The benefit of the central time zone is that college football starts at 11am. After watching the Florida Gators intercept the first pass from Idaho and return it for a TD, we headed out to Twin Peaks for an afternoon of football.
It was a very nice Saturday watching at Twin Peaks. It would have been better had the Maryland QB been able to hit a wide open receiver on the 2pt conversion in OT to beat Ohio State, but what are you going to do, they are Maryland for a reason.
I will also add that Twin Peaks is a fine establishment and this one was particularly nice and had a cigar lounge with a cigar hostess. Have not seen that before. Also, in the category of only in Texas, the Texas Longhorn waitress (they all wore college jerseys or shirts), was equally adept at talking football and truck exhaust stack sizes. Al’s got some studying to do.
At some point, we had to leave and go to the airport for the flight back to New York, which was uneventful. Thus concluding another College Football Quest season.
SMU finished 4-4 in the American Athletic West (4th place) and 5-7 overall. The Mustangs needed to win one of their last 2 games to be bowl eligible but lost this game and then their last game of the year to Tulsa, finishing the year at 5-7.
Memphis finished 5-3 in the American Athletic West, winning a three way tie for first and advancing to play UCF in the American championship game, where they would lose 56-41. The Tigers would move on to play Wake Forest in the Birmingham Bowl where they would lose 37-34, finishing the season at 8-6.
For our SMU photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.