8th: AAC (4th West Division)
84th: Division I
2017 In A Sentence: SMU is coming off its first bowl appearance in five years after finishing the regular season at 7-5 but lost not only the Frisco Bowl to Louisiana Tech in a blowout (51-10) but also lost its coach Chad Morris, who took the head job at Arkansas.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: WR Courtland Sutton ranked eighth nationally last year in receiving touchdowns with 12, while coming in at 21st in receiving yards (1,085) and 26th in receiving yards per game (83.5). He was second on the team with 68 receptions. He was drafted in the NFL Draft’s second round by the Denver Broncos.
Key Player: QB Ben Hicks will be in new Coach Dykes Air Raid offense so he will undoubtedly put up some outstanding passing numbers–even more than he did a season ago. Last year, the now-junior threw for 3,569 yards and 33 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. But he does need to improve on his late game decisions and will need to find new receivers after losing Sutton and Trey Quinn-both put up over 1,000 yard seasons in 2017.
Fearless Prediction: With Hicks and capable running backs in junior Xavier Jones and senior Braeden West (both went over 1,000 yards on the ground in the past two seasons–Jones last year and West in 2016), the Mustangs are sure to score a lot of points. The challenge will be with the defense, which gave up 476.7 yards and 36.7 points per game. SMU will likely win some shootouts but also lose its share. A similar 6-7 win type season seems like the realistic goal for this team and should be good enough for another bowl bid.