Southern Methodist made headlines last week when school president R. Gerald Turner declared his intention to get the Mustangs into a BCS conference. Hold your horses, Turner! Let this be settled on the playing field, where they take on Texas A&M, conveniently the program that SMU hopes to replace in the Big 12.
The Mustangs are hoping to complete their comeback to greatness after a quarter-century of irrelevancy.
Beating up on Conference USA competition—12-4 since 2009—has qualified them for bowl games in each of their last two seasons. Head Coach June Jones has worked tirelessly to build up the program entering a pivotal year. With returning starters, their is a realistic expectation for this team to win as many as nine regular season games. That would get the BCS conferences to take notice.
While his offense lacks star power, it has depth all across the chart. The entire line is back, including Zach Line, the team's leading rusher from 2010. Although they lost their top receiver, Aldrick Robinson, the Mustangs retained their next-best options, Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson.
Jones subscribes to a pass-first philosophy (Remember Colt Brennan at Hawaii? That was him.). The problem is that Beasley and Johnson are vertically challenged (5'9" and 5'10", respectively) and quarterback Kyle Padron under-preformed in his first season as full-time starter.
Also, I'm not sure what to make of the defense. End Margus Hunt only began playing football in 2009, Marquis Frazier is out of position and Kevin Pope is a converted running back trying out linebacker. Overall, SMU only held opponents under 16 points once in 2010.
The Aggies aren't likely to be shut down by anybody this season. They boast an amazing running back tandem of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray, and former receiver Ryan Tannehill was incredibly effective after taking over mid-season.
Despite A&M's Top 10 ranking, I'm skeptical that they can replicate—let alone improve upon—last season's run-stopping. Vonn Miller was huge for them, and now he's off to the NFL. The best-case scenario would be for returning linebackers Garrick Williams and Sean Porter to keep everybody organized.
Of my featured potential upsets of Week 1, this is by far the least likely. Experience doesn't usually beat talent, but it's possible, right?