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SMU on pace for college football's worst stats in almost a decade

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SMU has scored 49 points on the season. It allows 48 points per game.

Ronald Martinez

Of the 128 teams in FBS, 127 have won a game this year. The 128th is SMU.

Not only have the Mustangs not won a game, they've only once come within three touchdowns of winning. The Mustangs have allowed more than 41 points in every game they've played, and they've only scored more than 10 points once.

What's mystifying is that SMU was supposed to be mediocre. June Jones had strung together four straight winning years before a dip to 5-7 in 2013. There was no reason to expect a dumpster fire.

In SB Nation's SMU preview, Bill Connelly pointed out the team's consistency under Jones and its returning starters." The ACC preseason media poll put SMU fifth in an 11-team conference. Phil Steele predicted a tie for sixth. A consensus ranking of various predictions put the Mustangs in sixth out of 11.

The Mustangs started off the season poorly -- they were outscored 88-6 in their first two games of the season -- and then coach June Jones resigned for personal reasons. Things did not get better, and now they're 0-7.

1. How bad is SMU?

  • Through Week 9, SMU had scored 39 points while allowing an average of 49.2 points per game. However, the Mustangs busted out for a whopping 10 points against Memphis while only allowing 48, so their season total is now better than their average opponent's single game.
  • SMU has the worst scoring offense in the country, averaging just 7 points per game. The team in second-to-last place, Eastern Michigan, averages more than twice as many, 14.3.
  • SMU has the worst scoring defense in the country, allowing 48 points per game. The second-worst, Georgia State, averages 43.67 points.
  • If SMU got a win for scoring half as many points as its opponent, it'd be 1-6.
  • Baylor averages 50.4 points per game, more than SMU's season total. You might point out that this is skewed by the Bears' Week 1 matchup against the Mustangs, but it actually isn't. Baylor called off the dogs after going up 31-0 in the first half, winning 45-0 and scoring below its season average.
  • SMU's opponents have more scored more points on PATs than SMU has scored points on touchdowns and PATs combined. SMU has scored 34 points on touchdowns (one TD ended the North Texas game, making it 43-6, and ... I guess everybody just decided not to kick the PAT). It's allowed 40 touchdowns, with opponents going 39/40 on PATs.
  • SMU's average play is 3.6 yards. Its opponents' average play goes for 7.1 yards, almost twice as long.
  • SMU averages 249.4 yards per game and gives up an average of 553.6, more than twice as many yards.
  • Maybe you're the type who eschews scoring offense and scoring defense as outdated stats. Well, advanced stats don't bail SMU out much. They are dead last in offensive F/+ and 121st in defensive F/+. They are dead last in offensive S+P and 127th in defensive S+P.

FBS teams go winless all the time -- last year Miami (Ohio) and Georgia State did it, the year before Southern Miss did it, and SMU did it in 2003 -- but finishing last in points scored and points allowed is a rare feat. That 2003 SMU team was last in points scored at just 11.2 per game, but it only allowed 32.2 points per game, one of the 100 best defenses in the country.

To find the last team that accomplished that, we have to go back to 2005 Temple. The Owls, who had suffered the ignominy of being kicked out of the Big East essentially for being bad and not caring about being bad, had to play a schedule primarily of power-conference teams. They ended the season averaging 9.7 points per game and allowing 45.3.

2. Can SMU win a game?

There is good news for the Mustangs. Their awful stats are skewed by a difficult schedule. Their out-of-conference opponents included Baylor, TCU, and Texas A&M. And although the American isn't the best conference in college football, they've had to play its best teams thus far; their opener was against an ECU team that hung 70 on UNC, and that was followed by decent Memphis and Cincinnati teams.

That explains six of their losses, but the seventh was against North Texas. The Mean Green are 0-5 against FBS teams that aren't SMU, with no losses by less than 10 points, and sit at 124th in the F/+ rankings. And North Texas throttled SMU by 37 points.

SMU's remaining schedule is weak -- Tulsa, South Florida, and UConn are on there, and they're all in the bottom 25 of the F/+ rankings -- but they all seem to be better than SMU, in that they've won games. The worst opponent, No. 115 and 1-7 Tulsa this Saturday, is also a road game for SMU.

The hardest part of SMU's schedule is over, but it's shown enough complete ineptitude that it could lose out and maintain its status as the worst scoring offense and defense in football.