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In just three years, SMU head football coach June Jones has brought respectability and confidence to his team and the school. The Mustangs are no longer the butt-end of jokes, but rather, a team that actually must be taken seriously.

In 2009-2010, SMU collected their first bowl game in 25 years and promptly trounced the University of Nevada-Reno, 45-10, at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Last year, the Mustangs proved that the Hawaii was no fluke by by making it to their second consecutive bowl game: the Bell Helicopter Armed Forced Bowl. Though SMU lost to Army, 16-14, it was still a major step forward for Jones and his team.

Now, Athlon Sports has picked the Mustangs to finish first in Conference USA's Western Division, which houses powerhouse teams like Houston and Tulsa. Still, if the last two seasons are any indication, picking SMU to win the C-USA West is no longer just a joke.

All-Conference USA preseason squads

Nine Mustangs were named to the preseason All-C-USA squads: five to the first team and four to the second. In addition, the wide receivers corps, the offensive line and the defensive line units were chosen as the best in Conference USA.

The five players that made it to the all-conference first team were RB Zach Line, OL Blake McJunkin, OL Kelvin Beachum, DL Taylor Thompson and LB Ja'Gared Davis. The four members that made all-conference second team were WR Cole Beasley, LB Taylor Reed, CB Richard Crawford and S Chris Banjo.

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