College football is back and the Week 1 slate of games is putting the Group of 5 in the spotlight. Among the handful of matchups going down this weekend will be an in-state battle between SMU and Texas State. SMU, coming off a 10-win season a year ago, is hoping to once again be a legitimate contender in the AAC and earn an opportunity to play in a New Year's Six bowl.
SMU's opponent, Texas State, is not quite ready to be in that same conversation. The Bobcats are likely in for a tough season as they retool the offense and develop a defense. Facing off with one of the top offenses in the Group of 5 to get the year started should be a good opportunity to see just how much work there will be to do this season.
Will SMU pick up where they left off last season and set the pace for a run to the AAC championship? Or can Texas State show some fight and score a big upset at home to start the year?
SMU at Texas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 5 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Spread: SMU -20.5
When SMU Has the Ball
Expect plenty of offense from SMU this season. Shane Buechele is returning for another year as the starting quarterback after passing for nearly 4,000 yards last season, earning him the title of the AAC's best QB. Texas State cornerback Jarron Morris is fully capable of making some plays in the secondary, but SMU's pass-heavy attack will simply be too much for one man to contain on his own.
When Texas State Has the Ball
The Bobcats were disappointing on offense last season, which has led to the big offseason coaching strategy overhaul that will include head coach Jake Spavital calling plays on offense. There will be plenty of pressure for the offense to fire on all cylinders because the Texas State defense is going to be in for a long day. Texas State's offense also is young and raw and could be in for a slow start this season. That doesn't seem ideal for a season-opening game against SMU.
Coming off one of the most bizarre and unique offseasons in college football history, this matchup appears to be a favorable one for SMU. With the Mustangs offense ready to hum once again after taking big strides forward last season, SMU should not take long to get back in their offensive rhythm. Playing a Texas State defense that is rebuilding and had the setback of having the bulk of its offseason disrupted by the pandemic, SMU should be a considerable favorite in Week 1. Even if they have to knock off a little rust at the start of the game, SMU should be too explosive for Texas State to bottle up for long. And once SMU gets going, the points could be put on the scoreboard in a hurry before Texas State can collect its breath.
Prediction: SMU 45, Texas State 24
(Top photo by Vladimir Cherry/SMU)