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Looking at SMU's Non-Conference Schedule

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Between a CUSA title contender, an SEC upstart and a Big 12 member, SMU faces one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country. Can they go .500 and keep a New Years day bowl in sight? And if so, how?

The Chess Match Begins
The Chess Match Begins
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Over at that much-linked-to mega-hub the Dallas Morning News, EJ Holland has posted his Best Case/ Worst Case scenario for SMU heading into this season.

I won't copy and paste his article here because that is dumb. You can read it here. I would like, however, to highlight his final prediction for SMU's 2014.

Prediction: SMU will likely win one out of conference game and take down some of the weaker AAC teams in conference play. But it won’t be enough — SMU finishes with a 5-7 record and misses a bowl game for the second consecutive year.

Man, I have never been so insulted in all my years, months, days of being a diehard blogger and SMU fan. But, as this is an arena of logic and reason and, rather than rolling up my perfect Brooks Brothers sleeves and starting a real donnybrook, I feel it most adequate to come back with something both more accurate and optimistic for our SMU mustangs.

Let's see how SMU can handle a brutal non-conference slate.

"SMU will likely win one out-of-conference game"

Easy there, big fella. SMU may have what appears to be the toughest non conference schedule in the AAC, but that doesn't mean they are destined to a 1-3 start.

While Phil Steele may claim that North Texas is a 'prime contender' to get to the CUSA championship game, the harsher truth is that this is a team with just 9 returning starters. Most notably for the Mean Green is the departure of 1st team CUSA free safety Marcus Trice. Without Trice patrolling centerfield for the Mean Green, and with the expectant loss of his 90 tackles, 9 pass break ups, and 5 interceptions (team leader last year) from production, this secondary will be a potential weakness.

North Texas also has zero returning starters along the defensive line. zero. Considering the absolute wealth of RB's available to SMU, this game, barring absurdity, should be an easy SMU victory.

Now, the much more difficult task of locating a win in the Neapolitan ice cream of death that is the rest of SMU's non-conference schedule. Smart money may point to Baylor as the most likely upset candidate. "It's the first game of the season, the Champaign bottle christening of the new Waco cathedral Chapel of college football, they will be distracted and unfocused and that's when we knock 'em. Besides, it's Baylor." This argument is flawed for a couple reasons. One, the first game of season argument would help SMU if the pony's were the team with the senior laden offense, the clear and consistent leadership and all the momentum in the world

So if it's not Baylor that gives it's second non conference win, who is it?

Aggies or Frogs?

Every muscle in my cracking popping cigarette stained fingers wants to type the words "with the departure of Johnny Football, Texas A&M looks vulnerable against SMU." But, that's just not true. Texas A&M could be, gulp, even better than they were last year with a returning set of defenders and buckets of talent on the offense. As much as I love the boys from Highland Park, Texas A&M is just, like, too much.

Which then points us to the only slightly more favorable match-up against the TCU Horned Frogs.

Even with TAMU transfer Matt Joeckel contributing and most likely starting, even with BJ Catalon coming back and looking to improve and Aaron Green Jr. providing a tantalizing transfer prospect, the fact remains that this offense is going to be experiencing a major shift with new OC's Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham most likely installing a system is far-removed from what we have previously seen out of spread-option power game from Patterson and co. Admittedly, that argument could also fly against the Pony's, but, the difference between June Jones + Hal Mumme and June Jones, is much smaller, and the learning curve that much more forgiving that what TCU will be forced to experience. Combined with just two returning starters along the offensive line and only one returning wide-out, there are major mental errors just waiting to happen for this Horned Frogs team.

Don't get it twisted, TCU's defense is robust, with almost no visible weakness and a combination of returning starters and talented youngsters at every position group, this squad is perhaps the strongest in the Big 12.

But, SMU won't have to score 50 to win this game. We can answer the "how" in greater depth as the calendar inches toward September 27.

When these teams play, on September 27 (the date of the next LSAT, not that I'm getting nervous, or counting days) the game will be in Dallas, in Gerald J, amidst the passion and blood and fear than accompanies any battle for the skillet. People have complained about the apathetic and perhaps mercurial patterns of SMU attendance, especially from the student body. And, often with some truth, but, I know, just know, in my gut that SMU fans will turn for that game.

*Texts a friend who goes to SMU*

R U going to the TCU game?

/Maybe? WHen is it?

Sept. 27

/AWWWWWW, maybe, have to see what my boys are doing.

That night, September 27, I will drink too much and probably reconsider this whole law school thing and the skillet comes back to Dallas, and SMU claims their second non-conference victory. If the above text exchange is any true indicator, the student body is already circling their calendar and pick out their outfit.