The Only 4-0 Team In College Football, SMU Is Ranked No. 18 In The Polls. It’s The First Time The Mustangs Have Been Texas’ Highest-Ranked Team Since 1985.
No, Texas isn’t back yet — but SMU sure is.
By beating the Memphis Tigers 30-27 in dramatic fashion at its home Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday, the Mustangs football team improved to 4-0 on the season.
As the first — and currently only — FBS team to reach the 4-0 mark, voters in The Associated Press‘ latest Top 25 Poll rewarded the Mustangs by naming the team as the 18th-best squad in the country.
With Texas and Texas A&M each losing over the weekend — the former to TCU and the latter to Alabama — the No. 18-ranked Mustangs are also currently the highest-ranked FBS team from Texas. (The previously 13th-ranked Aggies fell to No. 21, and the previously ninth-ranked Longhorns fell to No. 22 in the polls)
According to Texas Football Life, this is the first time since 1985 that SMU can claim the title of the highest-ranked college football team in the state.
It’s an impressive turnaround for the program, which just last year earned its first Top 25 ranking in 33 years. Once a powerhouse national program, SMU has spent decades been clawing its way back to relevancy in the wake of the infamous 1987 “death penalty” sanctions the NCAA levied against the team following multiple rules violations.
Credit head coach Sonny Dykes for at least some of that. Since taking over as head coach in 2017, Dykes has led the program to a 19-11 overall record, including a 10-3 record in 2019 — the program’s first 10-win season since 1984. Dykes is also in part responsible for the team’s well-received recent “Born & RaiseDDD” marketing campaign, in which it celebrates the mostly homegrown talent that fills its roster.
Perhaps no player on the Mustangs better exemplifies that than senior quarterback Shane Buechele, the Arlington native who initially played for Texas before getting injured, losing his job to current Longhorns starter Sam Ehlinger and transferring to SMU.
Now in his second year at SMU, Buechele has thrown for 5,255 yards and 44 touchdowns in 17 games since being named the team’s starting QB heading into last season. Pundits currently place Buechele as the No. 4 NFL quarterback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the top senior passer available on the board.
Still, exciting as things are these days for the SMU football team, not all on the Hilltop are adhering to the old sports adage on the importance of acting like you’ve been there before.
At halftime during Saturday’s game, police kicked out the entire SMU student section for failing to adhere to social distancing protocol amidst their excitement over the game.
Eh, maybe SMU can’t win them all.