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SMU vs. Abilene Christian: Preview & Prediction

The Mustangs open the 2021 season with in-state opponent Abilene Christian

NCAA Football: Navy at Southern Methodist Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports

Date / Time: 6PM CST Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX

Watch: ESPN+

Line: SMU -30.5

SMU opens their 2021 season against the nearby Abilene Christian Wildcats on Saturday night. After a 7-3 season last year, the Mustangs will be looking to establish themselves as one of the best G5 teams and push for an AAC title. With Shane Buechele now gone, Oklahoma transfer and Texas native Tanner Mordecai has won the quarterback battle to open the next chapter for the Mustangs. SMU returns lots of starters on both sides of the ball among those Ulysses Bentley will be vital to maintain a balanced offensive attack.

The Mustangs expect to contend in the AAC this season which could be tough with a pretty brutal home stretch of conference games to end the season. SMU plays Tulane at home, at Houston, at Memphis, UCF at home and at Cincinnati in 5 of their last 6 games to end the season; not to mention earlier games away at TCU and at Navy (stop laughing Navy always plays well at home) so relatively speaking SMU has a tough schedule.

SMU’s success will depend on consistent play from the quarterback position this season. Tanner Mordecai has talent but this will be his first go as THE guy under center. From everything we’ve heard he’s got the talent and confidence to succeed following his camp battle with Freshman QB Preston Stone, a former 4-star recruit.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Oklahoma
Tanner Mordecai transferred to SMU having played in only 12 games for Oklahoma, though he left with a pretty solid 164.1 QB rating.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Abilene Christian will be hoping for an upset this weekend, though I wouldn’t get my hopes up to high if I were a Wildcats fan. ACU returns Sophomore QB Peyton Mansell who will be hoping to improve on an underwhelming 2020.

This should be a tune up game for SMU to work out the kinks of working in a new quarterback to the offense this season. I expect Sonny Dykes to let Mordecai throw it around a lot. I would be pretty surprised to to see much conservative play calling from SMU. Bentley will definitely get his touches along with the deep running back corps for the Mustangs.

Two things to watch:

How SMU WR Reggie Roberson Jr. looks coming off of his season ending injury last season. Roberson is easily one of the best wide receivers in the conference and could end the season as one of the most productive in the country.

Will any of the newcomers on defense contribute immediately to a defense ranked 78th in the country in total defense last year.


As mentioned, SMU will look to work in a new quarterback to the offense and hopefully not skip a beat. SMU has more talent and will show it on Saturday.

SMU 45-10 Abilene Christian