DXL Frisco Bowl 2017 Preview: SMU vs. Lousiana Tech

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (6-6) and SMU Mustangs (7-5) meet in the first DXL Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20. Here’s your full preview of the new bowl game.

With 40 bowl games, there are bound to be some that just don’t work. The American Athletic Conference’s Miami Beach Bowl was unquestionably one of those. If you asked yourself how could the publicly-financed Marlins Park look more depressing during game action than it does for Miami Marlins games, a bowl game between two teams South Florida couldn’t care less about is the answer. This paved the way for the creation of the DXL Frisco Bowl.

The bowl game is moving from a baseball stadium to a soccer stadium.  Toyota Stadium is in Frisco, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. It was built for FC Dallas of the MLS. However, it is no stranger to hosting postseason football. Toyota Stadium has been the home of the FCS Championship Game since 2012.

The SMU Mustangs got the bid for the American Conference, that kept the bowl tie-in. This is the Mustangs first bowl game since 2012. They will have to play this game without the coaching staff that got them there. Chad Morris inherited a 1-11 team and turned it into a 7-5 bowl team in just his third season. Unsurprisingly, this drew suitors from the SEC, and he jumped ship to Arkansas. Sonny Dykes was subsequently hired and will make his SMU debut in the Frisco Bowl against his former team.

The Mustangs will face a team used to bowl success. Louisiana Tech has now been to four straight bowl games in Skip Holtz’s five seasons at the school. They have won their previous three bowl games. The Bulldogs’ string of three nine-win seasons ended with a middling 6-6 season overall and 4-4 in Conference USA.

Here’s how you can watch Wednesday’s DXL Frisco Bowl  between the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and SMU Mustangs:

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 20
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Frisco, Texas
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

Morris built SMU into one of the most dynamic offenses in the county. The Mustangs averaged 40.5 points per game, eighth most in the country. This was while giving up, 35.5 points per game, so they don’t have much margin for error in losing offensive production with the coaching change. Dykes is famous for the Air Raid offense.

Morris’ “smashmouth spread” had the Mustangs averaging 308 yards through the air and 185.8 yards on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Ben Hicks is going to have to rely on a holdover grad assistant, who will be serving as offensive coordinator.

Louisiana Tech will have trouble staying with the dynamic SMU receiving duo of Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton. Both have racked up more than 1,000 yards and have 12 touchdowns each. The Bulldogs will need their all-conference defensive end Jaylon Ferguson to disrupt the timing of the SMU offense and put Hicks on his back.

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This will be a classic test case to see how much a coach actually matters. Dykes took over the SMU job a week ago. There is no way he has put any real stamp on this team. It’s probably silly for him to try to change things with this little time. This essentially makes him a figurehead. So the question becomes do you take the team that was the definition of mediocrity on both sides of the ball, but their coach has had ample time to prepare, or the dynamic offense relying on their talent?

Final Score: SMU 35, Lousiana Tech 31