After a euphoric Saturday night, gut-wrenching news was delivered to SMU Mustangs’ faithful Sunday afternoon.
SMU stormed into New Orleans and defeated Tulane 26-14 in the AAC Championship Game, knocking off the defending Cotton Bowl champions to improve to 11-2 on the season. The Mustangs rode a 9-game win streak into the postseason, refusing to trail once in the second half while dominating the AAC.
Once SMU took care of business in the Big Easy, it anxiously waited Sunday as the remainder of its season was in the hands of the College Football Playoff committee. There were expectations of a New Year’s Six bid, an honor which belonged to the AAC champion every season from 2017-22.
However, the Mustangs were snubbed of the New Year’s Six in favor of Conference USA champion Liberty, which finished 13-0 and clinched a Fiesta Bowl berth vs. Oregon. Instead, SMU will face Boston College in the 2023 Fenway Bowl.
SMU and Boston College met once in 1986, but the programs will soon be more than familiar with each other. After winning its first AAC championship, the Mustangs will join the Eagles in the ACC in 2024 where they are slated to meet each of the next three seasons. SMU hosts Boston College next fall in the programs’ first-ever ACC matchup, but first, they square off at Fenway Park in Boston for a trophy.
SMU (11-2, 8-0 AAC) is the first AAC champion to participate in a bowl other than the New Year’s Six since 2016. The Mustangs clinched their first conference championship since 1984 and now they can secure their first bowl victory since 2012 when they edged Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.
Boston College (6-6, 3-5 ACC) is set to make its first bowl appearance under head coach Jeff Hafley, who attained six regular season wins in three of his four years at the helm. In their first appearance since 2019, the Eagles search for their first bowl victory since 2016 when they defeated Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl. Boston College is located roughly four miles from the venue as the closest FBS school to Fenway Park.
The Fenway Bowl was initially scheduled to begin in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event that season. The following year, SMU was scheduled to play Virginia in the game but COVID-19 cases within the Virginia roster axed the game. 2022 marked the first Fenway Bowl where Louisville defeated Cincinnati, 24-7.
SMU and Boston College faced similar hardships in bowl logistics recently. The Mustangs faced COVID-19 related cancelations which prevented them from participating in the 2020 Frisco Bowl and 2021 Fenway Bowl. The Eagles lost their 2018 First Responder Bowl due to a weather delay and their 2022 Military Bowl due to COVID-19.
The 2023 Wasabi Fenway Bowl kicks off from the historic baseball stadium in Beantown on Thursday, Dec. 28 at 12 p.m. ET. It will be televised on ESPN.