SMU coach Chad Morris, in his third season rebuilding the Mustangs’ football program, will be taking his construction crane to a nearby locale where they do nothing it seems but build these days.
The inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl will feature Morris’ Mustangs, thought to be up-and-coming, and Louisiana Tech of Conference USA. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the 20,500-seat Toyota Stadium in Frisco, better known as FC Dallas’ futbol home.
SMU will be making its first bowl appearance since the Hawaii Bowl in 2012, the last of four straight bowl appearances under June Jones.
The bowl game marks Louisiana Tech’s fourth consecutive and a second straight in Dallas-Fort Worth. The Bulldogs put on quite a show a year ago in winning Fort Worth’s Armed Forces Bowl 48-45 over Navy.
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“We are excited to welcome the teams and their incredible fan bases to Frisco,” bowl executive director Sean Johnson said in a statement provided by bowl officials. “ We are looking forward to an exciting week of bowl events and a fantastic game.”
The leadup to the game might revolve around Morris as rumors about his future fly about like prom date possibilities.
He has been linked to a number of coaching vacancies, including the melodrama at Tennessee, and now Florida State. He was said to have expressed a strong interest in Ole Miss’ job, which has been filled by interim coach Matt Luke.
Arkansas is thought to be interested if reported offers to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn are declined.
A guess is as good as any other.
Morris, though, has made progress with SMU, his first college head coaching job after years as an assistant and coordinator, and before that as a Texas high school coach with stops in Stephenville and Lake Travis.
The Mustangs went 7-5 in 2017 after 2-10 and 5-7 in Morris’ initial two seasons. In September, the Mustangs visited Amon G. Carter Stadium, where they jumped on TCU 19-7 before eventually falling 56-36.
The Mustangs’ best item on their bowl resume might be a tough 31-24 loss to unbeaten Central Florida, which is headed to a New Year’s Day game with Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
SMU ultimately finished fourth at 4-4 in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference, behind West winner Memphis, Houston, and Navy.
As any coach will tell you, it helps to have a potential top-five pick in the NFL Draft to build around, and SMU has that.
That projection might be a tad high if he decides to come out after this season, but whatever the case, wide receiver Courtland Sutton’s future Sunday-go-to-meeting attire will be an NFL jersey and pads.
His presence here gives bowl officials quite an attraction, and he’s not even SMU’s leading receiver.
Trey Quinn was the beneficiary of opponents double and triple teaming Sutton. Even still, Sutton, a junior from Brenham, has 62 receptions for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Quarterback Ben Hicks has had a good time throwing to both, racking up 3,442 yards and 32 TDs.
Louisiana Tech, under coach Skip Holtz, went 6-6 in the regular season and closed its C-USA schedule 4-4, fourth in the West Division behind champion North Texas.
The Frisco Bowl is the former Miami Beach Bowl, which had games from 2014-16.