We could go 11-0!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the realistic best case scenario for the upcoming season. Now, is this my prediction? No. Of course, not.
9/3 Sat vs. Baylor
Win. The game two years ago was a borderline pathetic experience for all involved. What will make the outcome different this time? First, the game is at home. Second, one could argue SMU is a year ahead of Baylor in rebuilding. Third, the SMU team has more experience than the one that lost two years ago- only a terribly inexperienced team could have come up with the inept four minute stretch that included (in order) a partially blocked punt, a fumbled punt return and an interception. SMU wins 31-20 in a game that is closer than the final score indicates. 1-0
9/10 Sat vs. Texas Christian
Win. Coming off a shellacking in Norman, Oklahoma, TCU is left to ponder what to do with its upcoming week. Prepare for its cross-town whipping boy SMU or prepare for its home and conference opener just five days later against a team that finished in the top five a year ago. Overconfident, and with SMU in the past showing nothing to make them think otherwise, TCU chooses the latter and devotes a portion of each days film, meetings and practice to Utah. SMU wins 21-17. The only question is whether Gary Patterson is even allowed to take the team bus back to Fort Worth. 2-0
9/17 Sat @ Texas A&M
Loss. While in my most delusion moments I can envision Alvin Nebufe leaping to intercept an errant throw across the middle and taking it to the sideline before cutting downfield for a late 4th quarter touchdown to ice the win, it just ain’t going to happen. The best anyone can realistically hope for is to keep it close. At Kyle Field, I can’t imagine this being anything other than ugly. 2-1
9/24 Sat vs. *Tulane
Win. What can I say, Lester Ricard never materializes and Tulane’s kicking woes continue. The SMU defense starts to come together allowing a TD in the first and one in garbage time while Tulane misses two long distance field goals. Final score 24-14. 3-1
10/1 Sat @ *Marshall
Loss. The ponies lose a close one, 16-13. Marshall’s Ahmad Bradshaw runs and runs and runs. The SMU offense never gets in sink. 3-2
10/8 Sat @ *Alabama-Birmingham
Loss. The second blowout of the year. Considering we are two weeks into October, that is cause for celebration. UAB launches to an early three touchdown lead and SMU never really recovers, losing 45-20. 3-3
10/15 Sat vs. *East Carolina
Win. Just when you need to get back on your feet, the team that will most likely be one of the worst in the country rolls into the friendly confines of Gerald J. Ford Stadium. This one is a rout. Final score 41-13. Lou Holtz disowns his son; adopts Steve Spurrier. 4-3
10/22 Sat @ *Tulsa
Win. The Cedric Dorsey show makes a move into prime time. The Tulsa run defense is abysmal. The juco talent that Tulsa acquired simply never pans out. Dorsey has 178 yards on 20 carries and two scores. First road win for the Ponies since November 2002. Final score 24-7. 5-3
11/5 Sat vs. *Rice
Win. Wow. A bye week. The SMU faithful are abuzz; a win over rice means SMU is bowl eligible. Naysayers point out that SMU has beaten Rice just three times since 1986. The sunshiners prefer to note that SMU has won its last six home games. Bennett spends the entire off week stressing that this will be the year SMU figures out how to stop Rice’s option attack. Oh, they say they intend to pass more, but you and I know differently. The first official rout of the season: 44-10. The following week, Sports Illustrated puts Bennett’s mug in the corner picture over the caption “SMU-Back from the Dead?” 6-3
11/12 Sat @ *Houston
Win. John O’Quinn sucks. Kolb’s freshman season was an aberration. Ponies have their best three game stretch since 1997, SMU wins 41-16. Holy crap, they are 7-3.
11/26 Sat vs. *Texas-El Paso
If you have been paying attention, SMU undefeated in CUSA-West, which leads to a showdown moved to Saturday night for FoxSW. Why? Because UTEP is 10-0 and looking at an undefeated season. The game has less drama for SMU than it appears, even with a SMU win, UTEP goes to the CUSA Championship game. SMU plays it close but loses 33-28. Regular season record 7-4.
12/20 Tues vs. University of North Texas (New Orleans Bowl)
Frankly, SMU should be thankful it got here. No place better for SMU’s first bowl game since the death penalty. It is the first bowl game of the season; it is the closest to SMU save the sponsor-less Fort Worth Bowl; and well, it is New Orleans. More Ramon Flannigan and Phil Bennett human interest stories than you can shake a stick at. SMU wins 31-10. I’ve come this far, you think I am going to pick SMU to lose? Of course not, but it doesn’t matter. It is a dream season. Bennett cries; Copeland cries; Turner cries; I cry. And then we all wander down to the Harrah’s casino and ride our luck as long as we can. And when that is over, we stagger onto Bourbon street in the early morning light, wishing the season never had to end.
Again, is this my prediction? Hell, no. Anybody that is not satisfied with that season is delusional about what we can expect from this team. If you didn’t figure it out, all I did was pick SMU over the teams with losing records. But this is about the best we can do. In reality, I don’t expect to win some of these games I identified. But it was fun putting it together.
Somebody asked me why, after all the losing, I still follow SMU. By the way, this was in the presence of a classmate from SMU who makes five UT home games a year, but can’t find the time to go to one SMU game even though he lives less than five minutes away from Ford Stadium. This was my reply: When UT wins, most alumni feel good for an hour or two, the win is expected; when UT loses, they feel bad for a week. When SMU loses, I feel bad for an hour or two; when SMU wins, I feel good for a week.
Does this mean I am satisfied with the state of SMU football? Absolutely not. I want to win. I am sick to death of the losing. Frankly, I don’t know what direction this blog will take as the season progresses. I can foresee the scorched earth profanity laden tirade in the future. But I am going to bite my tongue on that one for a little while.
There is a worst case scenario coming, too. I actually have two worst-cases. And then sometime before the season starts, a real prediction.