The SMU Mustangs have played better as the season has gone along, winning three of their past four games after starting the season 2-4. Now at 5-5, they have a shot at bowl eligibility this weekend on the road against in-state, Conference USA rival Rice (4-6, 2-4).
The Mustangs have struggled away from home, however, with their only win away from the Hilltop coming at UTEP. But a win over Rice and a Tulsa loss to Central Florida this weekend will open the door for a shot at the Conference USA title game. SMU has to win this week to keep its conference title hopes alive.
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert told the Dallas Morning News this week he believes the team is improving with every game:
"I do think we all believe in this team, and we all do believe we are getting better," said Gilbert. "We've done a good job the past few weeks of taking things from the practice field to the game field, and that's something we need to do. I think we've actually been a good practice team since the beginning of the year, but we just had trouble bringing that to the game. Now, I think we feel more confident we can do that."
Gilbert himself is improving, though head coach June Jones wants to see even more improvement from a passing attack that ranks just 111th nationally:
"We still need to throw the ball more efficiently," Jones said. "Some of the reason for that is protection has not been as good as it needs to be, and we haven't been as accurate as we need to be."
SMU and Rice meet Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in a game televised by CSS.