Pony Stampede's SMU Season-long Predictions

The Pony Stampede staff picks every game of the 2015 season for the SMU Mustangs!

Gotta love preseason picks. They aren't based on injuries, depth chart changing, coaches changing, or any of that non-sense. Here's Pony Stampede's predictions for every game this season. We could be wrong or we could be right, but let's have some fun with it. Here we go!

Sept. 4 vs. Baylor

Billy: This game might start a little slow for both teams to be honest. SMU has completely new schemes and will be jacked up, while Baylor breaks in a new quarterback and faces plenty of pressure. That being said, Baylor will eventually get rolling. There's just too many weapons and not enough talent for SMU to keep up. Prediction: Baylor 48, SMU 17.

Scott: Baylor is playing with a chip on its shoulder after being left out of the playoff last year, and the Bears are just too talented to lose to SMU. Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings, KD Cannon and Corey Coleman will be matchup nightmares for SMU and steal the show on Friday. Prediction: Baylor 45, SMU 24.

Hatts: SMU is going to put up some points in its first game in Chad Morris’ new offense. Despite this increased point production, SMU will just not be able to match the athleticism of Baylor and will have a lot of trouble containing the Bears wide receivers. SMU will keep it close early but eventually Baylor will take over. Prediction: Baylor 48, SMU 21.

Demo: I don’t think anyone really has SMU winning this one. I see it as a throw away. It will give SMU and its coaches a chance to get on the same page for next week when they look to avenge last year’s embarrassing loss to UNT. Prediction: Baylor 49, SMU 14.

Patrick: Whoooo…I can’t think of a tougher start for a head coach of in recent memory. SMU could play sound football and still lose this game by three or four touchdowns. Baylor is just bigger and faster than SMU. Prediction: Baylor 41, SMU 17.

Sept. 12 vs. North Texas

Billy: These are two programs that could see themselves go in opposite directions. SMU returns some experience and plenty of players have a sick feeling after last year. After the loss to Baylor and another home game to show out, SMU will jump on North Texas with its tempo and cruise to a win. North Texas just can't make enough plays to keep up in week two of the Morris era. Prediction: SMU 35, North Texas 17.

Scott: SMU should be playing this game with a bad taste in its mouth of getting embarrassed last year in Denton. SMU has more talent than the Mean Green, and with a significant upgrade at the head coaching position, I don’t see Morris letting this one slip away. Prediction: SMU 24, North Texas 17.

Hatts: SMU was embarrassed last year at North Texas and no doubt will come out ready for this game. SMU has already come a long way from last year, and with some of the steps backward UNT has taken, this is a game SMU should win. Prediction: SMU 24, North Texas 20.

Demo: I think this one is pretty simple. The Mustangs are still pretty upset about their showing in last season matchup, so they come out with something to prove. SMU comes out hungrier than UNT and avenges last year’s blowout. Prediction: SMU 35, North Texas 21.

Patrick: This was supposed to be the bounce-back game last year right? Well, this year, I think it truly will be. SMU should be favored and will rebound at home, against a team that struggled to find any offensive consistency, except against an SMU defense that is a far cry from current Mustangs’ unit. The up-tempo approach will be too much for the Mean Green to handle. Prediction: SMU 28, North Texas 10.

Sept. 19 at TCU

Billy: This is more about where TCU is as a program. They're a mad bunch after being left out of the playoff last year and return way too much talent for anyone's own good. Gary Patterson, while I'm sure will get along better with Morris than June Jones did, rudely welcomes him to the Battle for the Iron Skillet. Prediction: TCU 52, SMU 7.

Scott: Even though it’s a rivalry game and anything cam happen, the Horned Frogs are another team with too much talent and too much riding on this season to slip up and lose to SMU. The Mustangs should keep it closer than they have in recent years, but TCU walks away with the W in my opinion. Prediction: TCU 52, SMU 21.

Hatts: Another tough matchup for SMU but also a good learning experience for them to see where they want to get to in a couple of years. Given the talent TCU has, this will be a tough one for the Mustangs, especially in Fort Worth. Expect TCU to roll. Prediction: TCU 38, SMU 7.

Demo: The Mustangs almost always come out to play when TCU is lining up opposite them. This year will be no different and seeing how the last couple of games went, SMU has a little more fire this time around. Last second field goal for the win. Prediction: SMU 41, TCU 38.

Patrick: This one scares me more than Baylor does. TCU is just as explosive on offense with Heisman candidate quarterback Trevon Boykin and receivers Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee. Defensively, I think the Horned Frogs are better than Baylor. This is an extremely tall task for SMU. Prediction: TCU 48, SMU 10.

Sept. 26 vs. James Madison (HC)

Billy: JMU is a well-respected FCS program, but with Morris' preparations and schemes, SMU rolls to a homecoming victory. A lot of pressure will be on SMU to perform and not come out flat like some teams in the previous era tended to do. New era, easy win. Prediction: SMU 45, JMU 10.

Scott: Playing in front of a homecoming crowd, the Mustangs surpass their win total from last year and get back to .500 with a win over James Madison. The Dukes aren’t a bad FCS football team, but with a nice crowd and after hopefully building some chemistry through the first three games, SMU should win this one. Prediction: SMU 31, JMU 10.

Hatts: SMU should have a good chance to get to .500 here with a win against James Madison. Don’t sleep on James Madison but this is a game that even if SMU wins ugly, is has enough talent to end the non-conference portion of its season with a win. Prediction: SMU 28, JMU 14.

Demo: Uh…who? Yea sure, 2004 National Champs—again, who? I like the Mustangs chances here. Prediction: SMU 35, JMU 10.

Patrick: The pattern continues: SMU has another game it will surely be favored in the week after a tough game. JMU may be a solid FCS team, but its still and FCS team. Say what you want about June Jones players with mostly FCS-level offers, but I think this won’t be a close game. The Dukes just won’t be able to keep up in any phase. Prediction: SMU 45, James Madison 14.

Oct. 3 vs. East Carolina

Billy: This is a really tough one to pick for me because I have a lot of respect for what Ruffin McNeal has done at his alma mater. That being said, losing your starting quarterback a week or two before the season is tough. SMU gets the edge at home in a high-scoring affair. Prediction: SMU 45, ECU 42.

Scott: There’s no doubt the loss of sophomore quarterback Kurt Benkert to a torn ACL will hurt the Pirates. ECU was already losing the AAC Offensive Player of the Year in Shane Carden, and having to replace its top 2 quarterbacks in one offseason is not an easy task. I originally had the Pirates here, but I think SMU squeaks away with a win. Prediction: SMU 28, ECU 24.

Hatts: A week ago I would have given this matchup to East Carolina. But with the loss of Kurk Benkert and the amount of other losses the Pirates have suffered on this team, this is suddenly a winnable game for SMU. By this time, the team should be showing steady improvement and possibly ready to win a toss up game like this one. Prediction: SMU 24, ECU 20.

Demo: SMU is coming off beating UNT, TCU and James Madison—why not push the streak to four? If the SMU coaching staff has made as big of an impact as we all seem to believe, 4-1 (while absolutely drenched in kool-aid) is not outside the realm of possibilities. Prediction: SMU 28, ECU 10.

Patrick: This is the game could really change the course of season in my mind. ECU lost starting quarterback Kurt Benkurt for the season to a knee injury. Let’s not forget about the loss of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, record-holding quarterback Shane Carden and a few key players at the skill positions. The Pirates should still be a solid team though, but they’re not the force they were a season ago, especially with Benkurt hurt. A win would really change the dynamic of the season. I think this will be a close game, but ECU pull it out. Prediction: ECU 31, SMU 26.

Oct. 8 at Houston

Billy: So much has been made about the budding UH-SMU rivalry. It's always been there, but under these two new staffs, it could explode. Dallas vs. Houston. SMU vs. Houston. Herman vs. Morris. Storylines on storylines. A lot of recruits will be watching this Thursday night showdown. I don't think SMU is there yet to compete against a tough Houston defense that loves to force turnovers. Prediction: Houston 31, SMU 24.

Scott: The battle of the two new head coaches. This should be a very entertaining game after all of the recruiting battles these two teams had over the summer, but Houston is a talented team and I don’t see them losing at home under Tom Herman to this SMU team. This game should be the start of a nice rivalry in the AAC. Prediction: Houston 38, SMU 24.

Hatts: Houston is not going to be a formidable defense but won’t be bad. With both Greg Ward and Kenneth Farrow returning, Houston’s offense might be too much to keep up with at this point. Especially down in Houston off a short week, SMU might struggle in this one. Prediction: Houston 28, SMU 10.

Demo: At Houston, all that kool-aid and all the hype has gone to the guys’ heads. They stumble and The Cougars rip them to shreds. Prediction: Houston 45, SMU 24.

Patrick: #PonyUpTempo vs. #HTownTakeover. This will be the flagship rivalry in the AAC when Chad Morris and Tom Herman really get their programs rolling. But the difference now is that Herman inherited an 8-win team that underachieved under Tony Levine. I’m expecting the Cougars to challenge for the conference title. SMU will be motivated in this one, but it won’t be enough: Prediction: Houston 35, SMU 21

Oct. 24 at South Florida

Billy: Going down to Tampa won't be a bad trip for SMU. My hometown will welcome the Mustangs with what I think will be a one-dimensional offense with Marlon Mack leading the way. Stop Mack, stop the Bulls. SMU's front six/seven comes into its own in this one and gets it done. Prediction: SMU 21, USF 7.

Scott: This game is the tale of two struggling teams trying to rise from the dead. I’m not sure if USF is a better team at this point, but I think at home they could steal a win here from SMU. The Bulls brings back AAC Freshman of the Year Marlon Mack, and a few solid recruiting classes in a row could prove to be enough to take down the Mustangs. Prediction: USF 28, SMU 21.

Hatts: SMU will have a week off and time to straighten things out. SMU will have to shut down Marlon Mack but should walk away with a victory here as USF is still searching to find an answer at quarterback. Prediction: SMU 21, USF 7.

Demo: After getting beat down by Houston, the Mustangs go to Florida for a little sun, some R&R, the beach, and most importantly to take out their frustration on the Bulls. SMU abuses the Bulls early and lets them score once or twice in the fourth quarter in garbage time. Prediction: SMU 35, USF 20.

Patrick: This is a winnable game for SMU, but many (including myself) are picking the Bulls to finally break out in Willie Taggart’s third year at the helm. So it’s not a cupcake. These will be two of the more improved teams in the conference, but I think SMU has more offensive firepower. Prediction: SMU 24, South Florida 10.

Oct. 31 vs. Tulsa

Billy: I don't think Philip Montgomery will have as much success as Morris or Herman in the AAC and I don't think this game will be any different. Morris and Montgomery will duel in another high scoring affair. I'm high on Dane Evans and he has some solid targets, but SMU's offense is also getting it going. It's going to be a ghastly game for Tulsa's defense. I'm also done with puns. Prediction: SMU 52, Tulsa 42.

Scott: New Golden Hurricane head coach Philip Montgomery brings promise to a Tulsa program that sputtered the last two seasons, but I do think SMU has more talent here. The Mustangs should take care of business at home. Prediction: SMU 31, Tulsa 24.

Hatts: Tulsa is beginning a rebuild of its own and will likely struggle this year with not much talent around Dane Evans. SMU should be able to force a couple turnovers in this game and should have a lot of support on family weekend. Look for SMU to put on an impressive performance in this one. Prediction: SMU 24, Tulsa 14.

Demo: Let the good times roll. SMU comes back from Florida with a nice tan, and some much needed confidence. Tulsa doesn’t put up much of a fight and—oh yea—ITS’S FAMILY WEEKEND! Prediction: SMU 42, Tulsa 21.

Patrick: SMU and Tulsa are on two similar paths: rough 2014 season and new head coach with a goal of playing fast. Tulsa will score some points, but I think this game will prove that Morris is just a better coach than Philip Montgomery. SMU will simply out-perform and out-execute (your invented word of the day) the Golden Hurricane. I also think Dane Evans is a little overrated. Prediction: SMU 38, Tulsa 28.

Nov. 6 vs. Temple

Billy: This game will all come down to turnover ratio. Temple made a living off it next year, but at this point of the year, I don't think SMU will be very turnover-prone. Temple is a talented team, there's no doubt about that, but turnovers are tough to sustain. Even with teams returning plenty of starters, they might not get the breaks. Even worse, the breaks go against you. P.J. Walker hasn't proven to me that he's not going to make the bad throws and turnovers that plagued him at times last year. That being said, Temple has too much talent. They eek by. Prediction: Temple 28, SMU 24.

Scott: Temple was a good team last year, and with the Owls returning 19 starters, they’ll have a very good shot at winning the East. Whether they beat Cincinnati or not (which I think they will), I expect their impressive defense to be too much for SMU’s offense this year. Prediction: Temple 42, SMU 17.

Hatts: Temple’s defense is going to give SMU problems in this one despite SMU being at home. This will probably be a defensive battle, but I’m not sure SMU’s defense can keep Temple down the same way Temple will be able to. Prediction: Temple 17, SMU 10.

Demo: Maybe SMU was a little too confident. After all, Temple did knock off No. 21 ECU last season and was bowl-eligible (but wasn’t invited to go anywhere). The Owls used last season to catapult themselves into this season and manage to fend off a streaking SMU at Ford, no less. Prediction: Temple 28, SMU 10.

Patrick: T.J. Simmons this, P.J. Walker that. Yeah, Temple is an up-and-coming team led by an underrated coach in Matt Rhule. However, I don’t think Walker will be much more consistent, and Simmons is still a true freshman and no lock to get the bulk of the carries, especially with Jahad Thomas still around. But SMU has a little confidence with two straight wins, and this is the game it will need to win to get to six wins and a possible bowl. That’s extra motivation. If Temple does pull it out, it will be because of an aggressive defense that forces SMU into silly mistakes, not an offense that runs all over. But I think SMU will be prepared. Prediction: SMU 21, Temple 17.

Nov. 14 at Navy

Billy: I have a ton of respect for Navy and what they've been able to do and with Keenan Reynolds at quarterback, this game is even tougher. SMU has a lot of prep work to do to play Navy and the Midshipmen will be ready I think. Reynolds runs wild and so do SMU's backs. Navy wins it though. Prediction: Navy 35, SMU 32.

Scott: Winning at Navy is usually a tall task, and with solid quarterback play and an improving defense returning, I don’t see SMU walking away with a win here. Not this year at least. Prediction: Navy 35, SMU 21.

Hatts: This will be a really tough matchup for SMU and likely give them fits all day, especially up in Annapolis. SMU has not seen an offense like this recently and it will expose some of the holes in this defense. Navy rolls in this one. Prediction: Navy 24, SMU 7.

Demo: After being slapped in the face by Temple, SMU faces Navy on the road. Upset with last week’s result, the Mustangs battle hard early but ultimately can’t do enough to beat Navy. Prediction: Navy 24, SMU 14.

Patrick: This is the tough game that gets the least amount of attention. Navy isn’t talked about as much as Houston, Cincinnati or Memphis, but the Mids are a good team who will contend for a division crown. Keenan Reynolds is an exceptional playmaker and I think he’ll be the difference. I think SMU will put up some points though. Prediction: Navy 38, SMU 24.

Nov. 21 vs. Tulane

Billy: I just don't think Tulane is going to be that great. Tanner Lee didn't impress me much and I don't see why everyone is that high on the Green Wave. SMU's offense is too much and the return to bowl eligibility is complete. Prediction: SMU 45, Tulane 21.

Scott: The Green Wave should improve on their three-win season in 2014, but I don’t see them beating a SMU team in Dallas this late in the season. You better bet Morris and company will have their squad ready for this one, especially coming off of a loss. Prediction: SMU 42, Tulane 28.

Hatts: This will be the swing game for SMU and one it should come away with the victory. Tulane has just turned the ball over too much to be competitive and that should play right into SMU’s hands in a game that will mean a lot to them. SMU rolls in this one and becomes bowl eligible. Prediction: SMU 28, Tulane 17.

Demo: At this point, SMU is 6-4 and they feel that one more win will put them in a good place to play in a bowl. It’s also senior night. So…SMU takes care of business and temporarily shakes off the funk of their last two games. Prediction: SMU 24, Tulane 17.

Patrick: I think this is another game that looks easy, but Tulane will be better. The Green Wave should improve offensively if young quarterback Tanner Lee can take a step forward, and it still has some playmakers on the defense. Still, I don’t think it will be enough to come to Dallas and knock off an SMU team that’s a win away from bowl eligibility. Prediction: SMU 21, Tulane 14.

Nov. 28 at Memphis

Billy: The top offense in the AAC battles what will likely be one of the top offenses in the AAC in the future. Paxton Lynch has things rolling for the Tigers at this point though and they're capping a 10-win season at the very least. SMU can keep up for a little while, but Memphis' defense will be in a groove by now too and make key stops down the stretch. Prediction: Memphis 42, SMU 31.

Scott: Coming off of wins against Cincinnati, Temple and Navy in 2014, Memphis is poised to head to yet another bowl game. At Memphis, I think this Tigers team takes care of business against SMU, leaving the Mustangs at 6-6 and bowl bound. Prediction: Memphis 35, SMU 17.

Hatts: Tough one for SMU to finish with but at least they are bowl eligible at this point. Paxton Lynch looks primed for another big year and will give SMU problems most of the day. Prediction: Memphis 31, SMU 7.

Demo: It’s the last game of the season and SMU already won six more games than last season. They are probably going to play another game. I’ll let you fill in the holes. Prediction: Memphis 38, SMU 17.

Patrick: If SMU finds itself at 5-6 entering this game and needing a win for bowl eligibility, this is a tall task. But I’ve predicted that won’t be the case. Memphis lost its three best defensive players, but the core of the offense is back, including quarterback Paxton Lynch, who went from shaky freshman to one of the best passers in the conference as a sophomore. I’m not worried about the defense falling apart without Martin Ifedi, Tank Jakes and Bobby McCain. Prediction: Memphis 33, SMU 17.

Billy: 6-6
Scott: 6-6
Hatts: 6-6
Demo: 7-5
Patrick: 6-6

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