Wasabi Fenway Bowl: SMU vs Boston College

By Stiofán Mac Fhilib

Bowl Season continues! 84 teams, 42 matchups, 35 different cities; if you thought the College Football postseason was restricted to the four teams in the playoffs, think again. In this game preview, we turn our attention to the Fenway Bowl:

Where and When

Wasabi Fenway Bowl

Location: Fenway Park, Boston, MA

Date: 28th December 2023

Time: 11:00am (ET)

Story so far…

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For SMU this trip to Boston is very much a case of what might – and if you’re an SMU fan, should – have been. The Mustangs lost two early out-of-conference games to last year’s National Championship Game runners-up, TCU, and to the Oklahoma team that handed playoff-bound Texas their only loss this season.  But Rhett Lashlee’s team were perfect in their final season in the American Athletic Conference, finishing 11-2 with a nine-game winning streak that included a conference title game victory over Tulane. A year ago, AAC champs, Tulane, secured the NY6 berth reserved for the highest ranked G5 team and SMU had high hopes of following in those footsteps, only to see the playoff committee pick Liberty to face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. So, it’s off to Boston instead, and sure who would want to spend New Year in sunny Glendale, AZ, anyway?!

Boston College, of course, will both be used to the Winter weather there and have rather lower travel costs to the game. The Eagles come into the game with a 6-6 record that saw bowl eligibility secured with three games to spare, at the end of a five-game winning streak. That was promptly followed by three consecutive losses to end the regular season so this virtual home game should give Jeff Hafley’s team the opportunity to regain some important momentum heading into 2024, when both these teams will be in the ACC.

The Quarterbacks…

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Redshirt Junior, Preston Stone, finally became the Mustangs starting QB in 2023 and threw for almost 3,200 yards with a 60% completion rate and 28-6 TD-INT ratio, by far the highest output of his career in Dallas so far. While not a prolific runner, he did contribute another 200 yards on the ground, as well as four TDs, to give opposing Defensive Coordinators something else to consider.

Georgia native, Thomas Castellanos, committed to UCF where he played five times in 2022, before transferring much further north to the Eagles.  He began the 2023 season as the backup QB to Emmett Moorehead, only to come in as his replacement half-way through the season opener against Northern Illinois. After overcoming a 0-14 deficit to take the game into overtime, he was subsequently named starter for the rest of the season. He has the less impressive passing stats of the starting QBs, throwing for 2,146 yards at a 57% completion rate, and with 13 INTs to his 15 TD passes, however, he is a genuine threat in the BC running game, as their leading rusher with 957 yards and 11 TDs on the ground.

Prospects to watch…

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Jaylan Knighton, Running Back – The Miami transfer spent three seasons at the Hurricanes before his 2023 campaign with the Mustangs. He led the team in rushing with 720 yards at 5.6 yards per carry, scoring 7 TDs along the way. Watch out for his impressive open field speed – he already has one 95-yard TD run this season.

Elijah Roberts, Defensive End – Another transfer from Miami, after spending his first three years of college in south Florida, Roberts recently announced his intention to return to the Mustangs in 2024 for his final year of eligibility. And the Mustangs will be delighted to get their 2023 sack leader back. He forced two fumbles as well as registering 9.5 sacks coming off the edge.

Boston College

Lewis Bond, Wide Receiver – The redshirt sophomore can play all three WR positions and was the Eagles’ biggest red zone threat in 2023. He caught 7 TDs in his 48 receptions for 611 yards and caught at least one ball in every single game.

John Pupel, Safety – An Ivy League transfer from Dartmouth, senior, Pupel, led the Eagles in solo tackles from the Safety position, with 53, to go with 25 assisted tackles, and one forced fumble. Having a Safety as a leading tackler generally speaks volumes about a team’s run defense, and not in a good way, but Pupel can only deal with what is literally in front of him, and he was a defensive stalwart for BC in 2023.


Motivation always plays a disproportionately high role in the outcome of bowl games, especially when one team really doesn’t want to be there or had been expecting a different and better destination. Were this a regular season game, I’d pick the Mustangs to win handily enough. But I think Lashlee will have his work cut out trying to get his team up for this one, and Castellanos will do enough with his legs, combined with a stingy Eagles defense, to squeak out a narrow late win.

Boston College 20-17 SMU


College Football Analyst