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2021 Fenway Bowl - SMU Mustangs vs Virginia Cavaliers: Three Players to Watch

SMU and Virginia are set to meet in the Fenway Bowl. Here are the players you need to check out in this key bowl matchup.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Tulsa Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The Fenway Bowl is going to be marked by who isn’t there. SMU has had several players opt out of the game, for instance. Meanwhile, both coaching staffs are going through fairly extensive turnover. Still, it’s important to highlight all of the key players who will be there, because they’re the reason why fans should be excited to watch these games.

Those players who are set to be there, and those who have opted-out, are going to affect betting lines too. DraftKings currently has the line for the game set to SMU+2, while the over/under is a massive 71 points.*

Here are three key players in determining the outcome of this game:

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Grant Calcaterra

SMU-Tight End

Grant Calcaterra has been one of the best tight ends in all of the AAC this season. He’s got great size and he’s an excellent threat in the passing attack for SMU. In particular, Calcaterra is an incredibly difficult threat to handle in the redzone. This makes him a threat to body up defensive backs or outrun linebackers almost every drive.

During the Fenway Bowl, Calcaterra should figure to be a key part of the offensive gameplan for SMU. This has to do with all of the opt-outs that the Mustangs have suffered. In particular, wide receivers Danny Gray and Reggie Roberson have opted-out of the Fenway Bowl. They account for 34% of SMU’s receptions, 39% of receiving yards, and 38% of the receiving touchdowns. That’s a ton of production to replace by proven players like Calcaterra.

On the season, Calcaterra has 38 catches for 465 yards and 4 TDs.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong


Virginia has been great this season on the offensive side of the ball. Not so much on the defensive side of the ball. This means that it has largely fallen on quarterback Brennan Armstrong to lead the Virginia offense in a series of shootout games.

The Fenway Bowl will likely work out in a similar way. Both SMU and Virginia are teams who built their season on the backs of their offenses. They did so despite defenses that were known for allowing explosive plays. This combination should make it so that these offenses have plenty of opportunities to dominate. That includes Brennan Armstrong for the Cavaliers.

This year Armstrong has thrown for 4,444 yards and 31 TDs. He’s also Virginia’s second leading rusher and has 9 TDs on the ground this year.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tanner Mordecai


The other quarterback in the Fenway Bowl should put on a performance too, as Tanner Mordecai is one the most explosive passers in the game. Mordecai has made his name this season by being a gunslinger who spreads the ball all over the field and is confident that he can make any throw on the field.

Mordecai has a big task ahead of him in the Fenway Bowl. The expectation is that this game is going to become a shootout in the cold of a December day in Boston. This means that he has to fight the elements to keep scoring at an incredibly high rate. He’ll be doing so without two of his top wide receivers. That makes him can’t miss in the Fenway Bowl.

Tanner Mordecai has had a great season, throwing for 3,628 yards and 39 TDs.