2023 College Football Rankings: SMU Mustangs

For the last two weeks, I’ve been illustrating which NFL teams most overachieved and underachieved relative to their preseason T Shoe Index power rating. We looked at key stats and potential reasons for the drastic change in performance – injuries, bad QB play, coaching changes, etc. This week, I began the college football version of this series, beginning with Virginia Tech. Today, we will look at the next biggest overachiever of 2023, the SMU Mustangs.

The Mustangs finished the season 11-3 overall and 8-6 ATS, which contributed to them finishing the season #12 overall in the TSI ratings.


In the above chart, you can see the Mustangs’ TSI rating as it climbed throughout the season. For a non-power school (last year), TSI began the season relatively high on Rhett Lashley’s team, but they even exceeded those expectations as they secured themselves in the top 15 of the sport, including winning the AAC championship without star QB Preston Stone (which was a TSI best bet that cashed easily).

SMU Offense

SMU finished the season with the 7th rated TSI offense, which isn’t surprising considering they were top 10 in points per game, led by Preston Stone’s 3,000+ passing yards and subsequent 161.3 rating (per ESPN) with 28 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. 

Some key stats that were indicative of the Hokies’ climb were going from .458 points per play in 2022 to .487, indicating increased offensive efficiency.  The Stone-led offense also maintained 6 yards per play for the second year in a row, keeping the offense on schedule and ahead of the sticks.

SMU Defense

Defensively is where the biggest improvement came for the Mustangs. After allowing 35 points per game in 2022, Lashley’s team cut that almost in half to 19 points per game in 2023. Furthermore, the defense went from allowing .485 points per game in 2022 to .272 in 2023, which is a meteoric rise in defensive efficiency.

SMU 2024 Outlook

Their 2024 win total currently sits at 7.5, with the over being juiced to -150. This is a tricky year for the Mustangs, as they transition into the Power 4 by joining the ACC. However, there’s not really a murderer’s row of opponents for them nonetheless, and they get Florida State at home. 

My TSI win total projections aren’t officially out yet, but I have SMU at 8.8 wins this year, so it would be Over 7.5 or nothing for me here, but I don’t love laying -150. As always, shop around to find the best line, but I would definitely like a piece of the over on the Mustangs.