SMU will host one of its rivals, North Texas, in a critical home opener inside Gerald J. Ford Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday. It’s the 39th matchup in a series that dates back 97 years.
The Mustangs are looking to go 2-0 for just the second time in the last decade. It happened the last time SMU beat UNT, in 2017.
North Texas, meanwhile, hopes to capitalize this season on an experienced and elite quarterback in Mason Fine and build on a 9-4 campaign from 2018.
Here are five key stats:
That’s how long it’s been since the Mean Green won a game in Dallas vs. SMU. The Mean Green also defeated SMU in 1977 at Texas Stadium in Irving, where the Mustangs used to host games. SMU is 30-2-1 as the home team in the series and has won the last 10 as host.
Head coach Sonny Dykes was critical of his team’s effort in a 46-23 loss in Denton last year.
“They destroyed us,” Dykes said. “They were better prepared than we were. They coached them better than we did. They had their team ready to go, and we certainly didn’t have our’s ready. They played harder than we did. They played more physical than we did. It was just a really bad effort.”
That’s how many yards James Proche is from tying Emmanuel Sanders for SMU’s all-time receiving record. Proche didn’t contribute much offensively in Week 1.
He had seven catches for 66 yards, which isn’t bad. But he was also cramping later in the game. It’s going to be another scorcher Saturday, and whatever led to his issues in the first game could come back. Dykes said Monday he expected no further issues from Proche, but we’ll see how SMU’s top receiver performs.
That’s how many Fine has thrown for in his Mean Green career. The team website has started a Heisman campaign for Fine, who also has thrown for 9,800 career yards.
For whatever it’s worth, Fine is the consensus best offensive player in Conference USA. His stats speak for themselves, and it will be interesting to see how he faces against an SMU defense that is more experienced this season but still doesn’t have an effective track record. Last year, the Mustangs allowed 35.25 points per game — that ranked 109 out of 130 teams.
Two await waivers
SMU still has two players who are awaiting word on their waivers to be granted or rejected. One is Thomas Shelmire, an OL transfer from Boston College. The other is Cam’Ron Jones, a DB from Nebraska.
It definitely is a bit off that the NCAA wouldn’t make a ruling on these players before the season. SMU hopes to know by next week, according to Shelmire’s mother, Mary Shelmire.
It’s unclear if either player would make a significant impact on the roster, but it would certainly provide depth, which is critical for Dykes, who uses a lot of his personnel.
DB Chevin Calloway and LB Armando Fitz were granted waivers before the game last week.
That’s the projected high temperature for the Dallas area Saturday. Last week, in a more sticky heat, we saw SMU create a strategy around the weather.
It went to an up-tempo offense early in the game to wear down the opposition, and it really worked. Both defenses looked gassed in the fourth quarter, but SMU was able to capitalize just a little bit more.
We also saw the Mustangs rotate in a lot of different players on the defensive line. Dykes said he lost count of the total. But it’s something you can probably expect to see again with similar hot conditions. These two programs are used to playing in this type of weather, but that doesn’t mean it won’t impact personnel decisions.