Game-by-game predictions for SMU football in 2024

2023 Wasabi Fenway Bowl
2023 Wasabi Fenway Bowl / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages
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Nov. 16: Boston College (L)

This will probably be where today’s analysis takes its most controversial turn, as many will assume I’m saying this because of the swiftly referenced Fenway Bowl and nothing more.

Due to that thought, I’ll be mercilessly pelted with remarks about how the Mustangs didn’t have starting quarterback Preston Stone in that game, will be on one of their strongest highs of the year at this point, will be coming off of their third and final bye, and will be having Gerald J. Ford Stadium absolutely rocking… all with which I wholeheartedly agree. The only problem is that the Mustangs themselves will be thinking all of that as well.

Say what you will about the bowl, but I don’t think player departure was the only deciding factor in how it went down; I think another was SMU overlooking the Eagles, seeing their 6-6 record—that they had obtained in the lame ACC, no less—and getting a bit careless. It was this slip-up that left the Mustangs stunned by the physicality BC ultimately displayed, particularly through dual-threat QB Thomas Castellanos, who proved himself to be the definition of unstoppable.

That brings us here, where SMU will once again be piping hot, with all the aforementioned positives setting up another potential underestimation. It’s obviously no guarantee though, as SMU may keep last year’s loss as the top reason to not overlook Boston College.

I don’t know for sure, but I can’t let that outweigh every single thing I see haunting this matchup. Therefore, we’ll just pencil this one in as a “trap game” that I have the Mustangs ever-so-slightly walking into.

Nov. 23: at Virginia (L)

You read that right, I have the Virginia Cavaliers, a team dealing with some of the greatest misfortune it’s had in the last 40 years, upsetting SMU in Charlottesville. My reasoning? Essentially the same I had behind the Boston College loss.

As the 2023 regular season progressed, the Cavs went from having a win allergy to being a bunch that even some of the ACC’s mightiest powers couldn’t count out. Said powers included NC State, North Carolina, Louisville and Duke. Of those four teams, only the Wolfpack and Cardinals survived Virginia, but they did so by a combined 10 points.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t let their latest record fool you: The Cavaliers, just like the Eagles, are no joke when slept on. So, having them share their turf with a recently humbled SMU sounds to me like another twist of the knife waiting to happen.

Nov. 30: California (W)

At this point, a lot of people will have given up on SMU having any season worth remembering, and I’m certain the Mustangs themselves will be aware of that, leaving them with quite the chip on their shoulder as they aim to prove the masses wrong and finish their regular season with a bang—and the diabolical, seemingly insurmountable behemoth in their way? California.

The Golden Bears went 6-7 in 2023, making them relatively accommodating foes for what will be SMU’s Senior Day. Not only that, but they’ll be strolling into the electric setting right after an emotionally draining Senior Day of their own against rival Stanford.

They’ll either beat the Cardinal and be in for a “hangover game”, or get upset and be going on the road with frighteningly low morale. No matter the outcome, the Mustangs are going to be far more focused on beating the Golden Bears than the Golden Bears are on beating the Mustangs, throwing one last dub into the SMU win column before the start of bowl prep.

With that final victory, I predict the SMU Mustangs will go 7-5 in their first year as an ACC team. That, of course, doesn’t have the same ring to it as “11-win conference champs”, but no one should be expecting them to replicate such a performance anyway. With that said, going bowling and having a chance to hit eight wins? Not bad for a batch of Power Four newbies.

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