I'll throw out an even bigger dark horse to watch in 2011: the SMU Mustangs. This is a team that is going to be really interesting to keep an eye on.
June Jones, who went 1-11 in his first season there, then 8-5 two seasons ago and 7-7 in 2010, has a talented, maturing bunch coming back, with 18 starters returning. The entire offensive line returns, as does the defensive line. Better still, Jones' triggerman, Kyle Padron, the latest Southlake Carroll High School quarterback product, is back for his third season in Jones' quarterback-friendly system. The 6-foot-4 junior completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,828 yards in 2010, boasting an impressive 31-14 TD-INT ratio.
If I'm going to be realistic, this is probably more like a 10-2 caliber team that falls a bit short of a BCS bowl berth. However, the Mustangs definitely have a shot at being this year's BCS-buster.
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