There are two Group of Five teams ranked and four others that are receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
Air Force was voted to the No. 22 spot and Tulane at No. 23. James Madison (70), Fresno State (6), Liberty (5) and Wyoming (4) are all receiving votes. A lot of hype has been swirling around some of these teams, but more so around the Dukes and the Falcons. Deservingly so.
Only four of those teams are in the top 5 our Group of Five Top 25, however. The fifth team there?
Behind the noise and the great matchups we’ve seen featuring some of the top G5 programs the past few weeks, the Mustangs have seemingly flown under the radar. I think this is because they haven’t picked up any quality wins so far this year.
And honestly, they might not secure a quality win until the second-to-last game of the season when they face Memphis.
Sitting at 4-2, SMU’s two losses have come to Oklahoma and TCU. The 34-17 loss to TCU doesn’t exactly look that great after the Horned Frogs are sitting at 4-3 with losses to West Virginia, Iowa State, and Colorado.
Still, it would have probably been the biggest win for the Mustangs in 2023.
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Each of SMU’s wins have come against a team that’s currently under .500. The combined record of the four programs is 8-19 and this includes two 1-5 teams in East Carolina and Charlotte.
Not exactly wins that will make headlines, but a win is a win.
Even though there hasn’t been much chatter about the Mustangs, they’re still one of the top G5 teams in the country and very much in the running to secure the G5 bid for New Year’s Six games. The team that’s least talked about might be the most dangerous.
Given its very light conference slate going forward, there’s no reason that SMU won’t be playing in the AAC title game. As of right now, all it looks like they need to do is defeat Memphis in Week 12 which will be no easy feat, especially on the road. We just watched Tulane knock off the Tigers at home.
Aside from that game, SMU hosts Tulsa, North Texas, and Navy and visits Temple and Rice. None of these contests can be overlooked, however, especially the trip to Rice.
Is it a bad thing if the Mustangs aren’t tested until late in the season? Facing some adversity could be huge for a team mentally. Knocking off another top dog could build some confidence. Both could be critical in a pursuit of a conference championship and that NY6 bowl.
This isn’t to say they won’t face any adversity, because every team does, it just might not be much adversity.
I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing for the Mustangs to be put in this situation, but it could be helpful.
They were certainly tested against Oklahoma in Week 2. They trailed the entire game before giving themselves a chance late and trailed just 14-11 in the fourth quarter before Dillon Gabriel went on to toss two fourth-quarter TDs.
Gabriel threw four TDs in that game but overall, SMU’s defense played well and showed a glimpse of how good it can be. It allows 17 points and 311.3 yards per game — both tops in the league.
We’ve seen the SMU defense show its potential, but I think we’ll see its offense become that high-powered attack we’re accustomed to seeing.
For now, though, the Mustangs’ wins may continue to go unnoticed, especially with how wide open the other G5 conferences are right now. And depending on what falls into place in the postseason, we might have to wait until next year to see SMU pick up its first win over a P5 program since 2021 as a new member of the ACC.