The 2021 Fenway Bowl features the 6-6 Virginia Cavaliers against the 8-4 SMU Mustangs. Here is the 2021 Fenway Bowl Preview.
Virginia Cavaliers (6-6)
Virginia won six games earlier in the season to qualify for a bowl, but is currently on a four-game losing streak. They defeated two bowl-eligible teams this season in Miami and Louisville. All six losses on the season for the Cavaliers came to teams that made bowl games.
The offense puts up 34.6 points per game, which ranks 22nd nationally. They pass for 392.6 yards (ranked second) and rush for 123.2 yards per game (ranked 103rd).
Brennan Armstrong had a career year as quarterback for Virginia. He has 4,444 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 65.3 percent completion. Five pass-catchers have over 500 receiving yards this season. Dontayvion Wicks leads the team with 57 receptions for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns. Former quarterback Keytaon Thompson has 78 receptions for 990 yards and two touchdowns. Billy Kemp IV, Ra’Shaun Henry and Jelani Woods round out the major contributors in the passing game, but Woods opted out of the bowl game.
The Cavaliers don’t run the ball often and have spread the ball around to different runners. Wayne Taulapapa leads the team with 324 yards and he also has two touchdowns. Armstrong has rushed for 256 yards and a team-best nine touchdowns on the ground from the quarterback position. Thompson, Devin Darrington and Mike Hollins each have over 200 rushing yards.
Their defense allows 31.8 points per game, ranking them 103rd in the country. They concede 225.8 rushing yards (ranked 123rd) and 240.2 passing yards per game (ranked 86th). Linebacker Nick Jackson has a team-best 117 total tackles on the season. Safety Joey Blount has three interceptions, while cornerback Nick Grant has the team-lead with nine passes defended.
SMU Mustangs (8-4)
SMU started the season off hot, but lost four of their last five games to finish with eight wins. They have two wins over bowl-eligible teams: North Texas and UCF. All four of their losses came to teams who qualified for bowl games.
The Mustangs have a good offense that averages 38.4 points per game, tying them for 10th in the country. They pass for 304.5 yards (ranked 16th) and rush for 161.4 yards (ranked 68th).
Tanner Mordecai transferred in from Oklahoma and took the reins of the pass-heavy attack. He has passed for 3,628 yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 67.8 percent completion. Two of his top three receivers have opted out for the bowl game in Danny Gray and Reggie Roberson. His top remaining target will be Rashee Rice, who has 64 receptions for 670 yards and nine touchdowns. Tight end Grant Calcaterra and wide receiver Roderick Daniels Jr. will both be asked to step up in this game with the loss of Gray and Roberson.
Two running backs have been effective for the Mustangs this season. Tre Siggers leads the team with 727 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Siggers may be out for this game with an ankle injury sustained late in the season. That means more of the workload will shift over to Ulysses Bentley IV, who has 610 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
The defense allows 28.4 points per game, which ties them at 84th nationally. They give up 136.5 rushing yards (ranked 44th) and 278.1 passing yards per game (ranked 124th). Linebacker Delano Robinson leads the team with 78 total tackles. Cornerback Jahari Rogers has eight passes defended and DeVere Levelston rushed the passer well with 6.5 sacks.
SMU having players sitting out will really hurt their chances, as their offense may not be able to put up a lot of points. That will be needed to win this game. As long as Armstrong plays for Virginia, they should be able to win.
Virginia Cavaliers 35 SMU Mustangs 29
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