Preview: SMU vs. Baylor

SMU will face Baylor on Sunday and is looking to open the season with a win on the road for the first time since 1986

What to Watch on Offense for SMU:

With new quarterback Garrett Gilbert taking the reins of the Mustangs' Run N' Shoot offense SMU has its most talented quarterback in a number of years starting for them.

While Gilbert will be playing in his first game in almost a year after taking 27 hours to graduate from Texas, he will rely on senior running back Zach Line to pick up where he left off last year, which included ranking seventh nationally in rushing at 122.4 yards per game.

SMU has five new starting offensive linemen this season after losing all five to graduation, but the team does return senior lineman Blake McJunkin, who will start at guard after being granted a medical redshirt last season.

For SMU, grinding it out with Line is key. The Mustangs have an opportunity to take advantage of the Baylor defensive front lacking experience and a heavy dose of Line will help SMU control the clock and the game.

What to Watch on Offense for Baylor:

Baylor will be rebuilding after losing Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III to the NFL Draft as well as top receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway.

The Bears return quarterback Nick Florence, who proved to be more than a capable backup when he stepped in for RGIII while he was out. Florence has great players at receiver in Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese, who are as talented as they come.

Stepping in for Granaway will be a committee of running backs, but Jarred Salubi, Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk, who is an Oregon transfer and has big play potential, will be the ones to get the most time. None of the backs will be work-horses, but each has their own style that could benefit the Baylor offense with a new quarterback.

Baylor returns three starters to the offensive line, but the rotation has been juggled most of fall camp. One thing is for certain, there are some big boys up front with all of them at least 305. SMU will have to frustrate the new starters early with a pass rush to have a chance.

What to Watch on Defense for SMU:

SMU's defense has the talent and experience to shutdown the Bears upfront and take away the Baylor running game by allowing senior linebackers Jagared Davis and Taylor Reed to roam and play to their strengths.

The secondary for SMU has two new starters, but senior safety Ryan Smith is the unquestioned leader that will be looked to for big plays against this talented group of receivers that Baylor has.

The defensive line of SMU will have to be physical and plug up the holes for the Baylor backs. The SMU linemen are strong enough to hold their own against the big Baylor line, but doing it consistently will be the key.

What to Watch on Defense for Baylor:

Baylor's front seven is the weakest part of this Baylor team, something that will definitely help SMU as they look to avenge their 2005 defeat at the hands of Baylor. Baylor lost three of four starters last year along the defensive line and their ends have not made much of an impact at pass rushing in the past.

The defensive coordinator for Baylor is former SMU head coach, Phill Bennett, who preceded June Jones at SMU. Bennett's defense will be looking to improve off of their 2011 campaign, where they gave up over 37 points a game including 56 in their bowl win against Washington.

Gilbert faced Baylor as a sophomore at Texas and believes that he ‘owes em one.' With Gilbert's experience against a Bennett defense, that may help the Mustangs gain a slight edge.

Key to Victory:

The key to SMU beating Baylor will be Gilbert being able to make big plays on the Baylor secondary after Line has the Baylor defense concerned about him ripping off large gains.

Prediction: SMU wins 31-21

Pony Stampede Top Stories