By Zach Walker
SMU Mustangs vs. Baylor Bears
Sunday – August 31 – 6:30pm
TV: FOX Sports 1
McLane Stadium – Waco
Records before the Game
SMU: 0-0 (0-0 in AAC)
Baylor: 0-0 (0-0 in Big XII)
Two players for both teams, to watch
QB Neal Burcham – Poise is the key for Burcham. He’s got to stay calm, cancel out everything but what’s happening at field level, because the Bears are trying to cut the ribbon on the brand new McLane Stadium with a washing of SMU. Luckily for Burcham, having a top rated receiver can really help attack a very raw Baylor secondary. Darius Joseph had a monstrous 103 catches last season and in the creative ways June Jones can put the ball in Joseph’s hands, Burcham’s composure can be very cool.
LB Stephon Sanders – Having his hands full would be an understatement for Sanders, because of the kind of running back the Bears have. Shock Linwood is one of the nation’s most electric playmakers, averaging 6.8 yards per carry last season, and will force defense’s to stay honest and play the run. Stephon has as much athleticism as anybody out there playing football, but can the defense contain Shock?
QB Bryce Petty – A Heisman candidate, and for good reason. 4200 yards and 32 touchdowns and threw only three interceptions, and for a fun little side stat, he ran for 14 rushing touchdowns, now that’s Heisman caliber play. It’s going to take everything that the Mustangs have got to get Petty rattled, and even more to keep him or the ball out of the end zone.
DE Shawn Oakman – Every so often, a human being comes along and makes people stop and just gawk. Oakman takes his name to heart, because he’s as big as a tree. Six foot, nine inches. I couldn’t imagine standing next to someone that large, let alone have him off the leash, and trying to get after a quarterback. Saturday’s for Baylor are going to be a twelve part mini-series titled, “The Oakman: A story of intimidation.”
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Not to be rude or anything, but it’s going to take one hell of a miracle for this game to be close. The Bears are a four touchdown favorite. The Mustangs would have to start hot and stay that way, and it’d have to be asphalt at a burning gas station-type of hot. If June Jones could coach his men to a win, it would be a major upset in college football, but ask Kansas State how their game one went last season, upsets happen.
Prediction: SMU 20 – Baylor 66
I don’t like the idea of a blowout, but based on how Baylor came out of the gate last season, and all the factors of this game: Opening a brand new stadium, Heisman-caliber quarterback with big time weapons, and factor in the genuine unknown of a new season and new players, it could end up like watching a tidal wave about to hit a row of beach-front houses. But hang on, Mustangs’ fans, there’s good things ahead. #PonyUp