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DALLAS (AP) — A grim-faced Tom Herman could hear the whoops and hollers of SMU players as the Houston coached tried to explain a shocking 38-16 loss to the Mustangs on Saturday night.

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Was it hard to listen to that celebration?

“More than you know,” Herman said.

Ben Hicks threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score in SMU’s first win over a ranked team in five years.

The Cougars (6-2, 3-2 American) lost for the second time after a 5-0 start that included a season-opening win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma that vaulted Houston into the Top 10.

The last time the Mustangs (3-4, 1-2) beat a team ranked 11th or higher, they were No. 4 and finishing off a near-perfect 1982 season (11-0-1) with a 7-3 victory over sixth-ranked Pittsburgh in the Cotton Bowl. SMU tied No. 7 Texas A&M in 1994.

“Shocked is a good word,” Herman said.

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Greg Ward Jr. couldn’t shake a persistent SMU pass rush or find receivers for big plays, finishing with 241 yards passing — almost 100 below his average — and just 3 yards rushing on 17 carries thanks to seven sacks.

One of the sacks was for an 18-yard loss to the Houston 22 when coach Tom Herman went for it on fourth down trailing 28-14 early in the fourth quarter.

Herman got conservative moments later, choosing a 19-yard field goal attempt on fourth down from the SMU 2. Ty Cummings hit the right upright for his second miss.

Hicks was 16 of 31 for 228 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown to a wide-open James Proche for a 28-7 lead in the final seconds of the first half. SMU appeared content to run out the clock before a 40-yard run by Braeden West, who had 115 yards rushing and a punctuating touchdown late.

The Cougars lost two fumbles in the first quarter and never got their high-powered offense going. Houston was outgained 406-303.

“When you play a team at their place that’s fresh, that’s hungry, motivated, to give them life like that,” Herman said. “You’re playing catch-up the whole game from that point on.”

SMU defensive end Jarvis Pruitt recovered one of the fumbles and had three sacks in the Mustangs’ first win over a ranked team since beating No. 20 TCU 40-33 in overtime in 2011.

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