Location: Bobcat Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday, September 5th
TV/Radio: ESPN/San Marcos: AM 1300, 930 AM, 89.9 FM. DFW: ”The Ticket” 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Series Record: Mustangs lead the series, 2-0.
Last Meeting: SMU won last season, 47-17
Betting Line: SMU, -22, 70 o/u
Due to the current circumstances going on in the world, the center of college football will be San Marcos, Texas this Saturday, albeit for the afternoon.
We may get an entire seasons worth of football or we may get a handful of games. Will there be a second season in the spring for the teams that held out this fall? How will the bowl games work? Only Zeus and maybe Miss Cleo know but for now what we have is a prime opportunity for two teams to showcase to our nation what they are made of.
SMU represents the classically underrated American Athletic Conference. A conference boasting such “mid-major” powerhouses as Cincinnati, Memphis and former National Champion Central Florida. Southern Methodist is right behind them.
A 2019 campaign saw the Mustangs start off 8-0 and even got their first AP ranking since 1986. SMU looks to go even further this year and capitalize on their brush with success.
Texas State on the other hand had their second straight 3-9 season. First year head coach Jake Spavital was working with the previous administration’s recruits. There were some flashes of excellence but alas it turned out to be a rebuilding year. That’s not a bad thing. Especially with a first time head coach working out the bugs.
The Bobcats themselves come from a powerful conference boasted by the likes of Appalachian State and Troy.
So who will come out on top in front of a national audience? Let’s find out.
The Stables Have Turned
Head coach Sonny Dykes and his air-raid offense was firing on all cylinders last year. The Mustangs will try to surpass the firepower of last year despite the loss of Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
The offense is very experienced and very talented. Here is SMU’s depth chart. Eight of the 11 offensive starters are upperclassmen. Former Longhorn Shane Buechele will be back under center for the Mustangs.
Buechele had damn near 4,000 yards when he threw for 34 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. His main target James Proche graduated, but he’s got Reggie Roberson Jr. to throw to now.
Arguably one of the best receivers in the nation, Roberson is projected as a top ten receiver in next year’s NFL draft.
A big hole in their offense will be their running game as their two leading rushers from last year are gone. Xavier Jones and Ke’Mon Freeman combined for over 1,900 yards of offense and 30 total touchdowns.
SMU’s defense will be their biggest question mark as five of their top six tacklers are gone this season. Add to that they gave up 33.4 points a game last year (ranking 110th out of 130), including giving up 50+ points on three different occasions.
Cat Scratch Fever
Texas State have been making some moves in the offseason.
Jake Spavital is entering his second season at the coaching helm and made some drastic changes. First Spav gained a plethora of soplid recruits and transfers including just-announced starting quarterback Brady McBride. Now the young head coach will take over the offensive play calling after the sacking of offensive guru Bob Stitt. Their offense last year didn’t make much of a splash and they scored as much as I did on prom night.
For a few years the Bobcats have had some developmental issues and shallow depth chart, especially along their offensive line, but this year the trenches are much improved and deeper than they’ve been in years.
Unfortunately the Texas State depth chart hasn’t been released yet, so critiquing the starters is fruitless.
Leading receiver Hutch White is gone but most of the receiving corps, including Caleb Twyford and Javen Banks return.
If anybody can revive a tepid offense, it’s Spavital. The Texas State head coach was on the coaching staff at Cal when Sonny Dykes was coaching in the Pac-12 before landing at SMU. Spavital has groomed multiple NFL quarterbacks.
On the defensive end the Bobcat suffered a huge blow with the graduation of their all-time leading tackler Bryan London and the hard hitting Frankie Griffin. The defense wasn’t that deep so it’ll be the ultimate test against a high-powered SMU offense.
SMU is heavily favored but with two squads jammed with talent, both experienced and newcomers, look for a hard fought game.
In the time of the pandemic we won’t know how the practices and roster fared in a situation that tested the mental, physical and psychological well being of two rosters full of young men.
As college football fans we will get to watch two teams with a rare opportunity to show off in front of a national audience and leave their mark on the FBS stage.
Long-time Underdog Dynasty readers know I always choose Texas State and neither plague nor pestilence will change that. It’ll be a see-saw game but give me the Bobcat 44-42 win. In a game where there’s nothing to lose and a Saturday afternoon spotlight to capitalize on, you can be sure both teams will go all out.