Not any more.
SMU (2-0) looks much improved this year. Washington State (0-2) looks about the same as the team that finished near the bottom of the nation in both offense and defense last season.
The Cougars turned the ball over seven times in a 38-20 loss to Hawaii last week, prompting coach Paul Wulff to make a change at quarterback. Sophomore Marshall Lobbestael will start in place of senior Kevin Lopina.
"The message is that you turn the ball over seven times, you're going to lose seven times," Wulff said.
Lopina had started 11 games in his WSU career and showed little ability to put points on the board. The Cougars are among the bottom teams in the nation in scoring just 16 points per game.
Lobbestael has shown a stronger arm in less playing time, but also hasn't found the end zone much. Lobbestael played in five games last year, throwing for 571 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions. This season, he's completed 10 of 19 throws with one interception.
Wulff also said freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel may get some playing time Saturday. They had expected to redshirt him, but Wulff has been impressed with how quickly Tuel has learned the offense.
"We do not have a solidified starting quarterback and we're trying to find one and the only way we can do it at this point is to give these guys opportunities to prove it and step forward," Wulff said.
The quarterbacks will be throwing into an SMU defense that leads the nation with nine interceptions.
Washington State has gotten good play from running backs James Montgomery and Dwight Tardy. Montgomery had a career high 118 yards on 17 carries against Hawaii. Jeffrey Solomon caught six passes for 71 yards. But speedy receiver Jeshua Anderson, an NCAA hurdles champion, quit the team this week to concentrate on track.
Linebacker Andy Mattingly is battling both a concussion and a bruised leg.
The SMU game is the last of three home games that opened the season. Washington State plays five of the next six on the road.
Southern Methodist won just one game last year, one fewer than WSU, but they started this season by beating Stephen F. Austin and UAB.
This is the first time the two programs have played. Washington State has not lost its first-ever game against an opponent at home since 1902.
The Mustangs, coached by June Jones, are averaging 33 points per game and have a fine passing attack led by quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns against UAB. Receiver Emmanuel Sanders is averaging more than eight catches per game.
SMU Will See WSU New QB on Saturday
SMU (2-0) and Washington State (0-2) face off at 4 p.m.
Published at 9:16 PM CDT on Sep 18, 2009 | Updated at 9:30 PM CDT on Sep 18, 2009
Not any more.