Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Friday, Sept. 4
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Records: Baylor 37, SMU 36, Tie 7. Last meeting: 45-0 Baylor in 2014.
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: Baylor -36, Over/Under of 74.5
SMU Outlook: The biggest positive for SMU heading into the season is that it cannot be much worse than the 2014 season. New head coach Chad Morris is reunited with quarterback Matt Davis, a player that he nearly convinced to go to Clemson out of high school. Davis was able to show his ability to run the football and actually ended the season as the team's leading rusher. Daniel Gresham, sophomore Darius Durall, senior K.C. Nlemchi, and junior Prescott Line should all be viable options for the Mustangs at running back. The Mustangs wideouts are led by returning starter Darius Joseph, but have several players that could be in store for big seasons including Deion Sanders Jr. Offensive line will be interesting for the Mustangs as every spot has been battled for after SMU ended the season nearly last in every major offensive category.
As bad as SMU was on offense last season, they were equally as bad on defense with one of the worst statistical seasons in school history. Zach Wood leads a defensive line that is going more off of potential than actual production, although Wood has produced on the field for SMU. Shakiel Randolph is the key to the SMU defense as he has the ability to move from safety to cornerback and even to linebacker when needed. He will be all over the field for the Mustangs looking to force turnovers, something that SMU was terrible at in 2014. Jonathan Yenga, fourth on the team in tackles in 2014, has the ability to make plays in the backfield and should be a steady force for the SMU defense. One cannot expect the Mustangs to suddenly be good on defense but they should be much better than in 2014.
Baylor Outlook: Despite losing one of the best quarterbacks in school history to the NFL, the Baylor Bears are expected to compete for a spot in the FBS playoffs this fall. New signal caller Seth Russell cannot be expected to put up the numbers of Petty but should be just fine with a plethora of weapons surrounding him. Junior running back Shock Linwood returns after rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Wide Receivers Corey Coleman and sophomore KD Cannon are an outstanding pair that that combined for 122 catches, 2,149 yards, and 19 TDs. The biggest key to the Baylor offense continuing to be successful at a high rate is the fact that all five starting offensive linemen return this fall to give Baylor one of the most experienced offensive lines in the nation. All-American left tackle Spencer Drango leads the bunch.
As big of an addition as any, the Bears return defensive end Shawn Oakman (19.5 tfl, 11 sacks) for the upcoming season. The third-team All-American should be one of the best defensive players in the nation this fall. The Baylor defensive line is stacked with Oakman, All-Big 12 honoree Andrew Billings at nose tackle, and 2014 Freshman All-American K.J. Smith. Another Freshman All-American, Taylor Young, will be key to the Bears linebacker corps that will be starting two new players, the only two players of the Baylor front seven to not start last fall. The Baylor secondary is experienced but have to be better this fall with all four starters back for the 2015 season.
Prediction: I don't think a line of 36 is enough for how ugly this game could get. Baylor is one of the trendy projections as a playoff team and SMU is not very good. The Mustangs are improved but face an insanely talented offense in Week One that could easily put up 50 points in the first half. As long as SMU stays healthy and shows the nation that they are at least somewhat better than last season, it will be a success.
Can SMU pull the biggest shocker of the FBS season in Week One and upend Baylor or will it get ugly quickly?