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Temple Owls vs. No. 19 SMU Mustangs: Preview & Prediction

Could this be a preview of the AAC Championship game?

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, October 19, 2019

Kickoff Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas

Watch: ESPN2

All-Time Series: Temple leads, 2-1-2

Last Meeting: 10/1/16. Temple 45 - SMU 20

Betting Lines: SMU -7.5, O/U 60

Temple Owls Outlook

Rod Carey’s group have been a nightmare for ranked opponents this season. They beat Maryland, 20-17, in Week 3, and are coming off a win over previously unbeaten Memphis last week. It was the first time the Owls beat two ranked teams in one year. The Owls were able to contain both potent offenses with a handful of big plays on defense, and some might argue a little bit of help from the officials last week.

Temple’s defense has been the main catalyst to their 5-1 start. The Owls rank fourth in red zone defense, 12th in third down conversion defense, 22nd in scoring and 31st in total defense. They have playmakers all throughout the defense that have a knack for coming up with key plays and turnovers. Shaun Bradley made the huge stop in the backfield against Maryland. Harrison Hand has an interception and at least nine tackles in both wins against ranked opponents. Ifeanyi Maijeh has been a huge surprise on the defensive line with six sacks and 10 tackles for loss. There are a few more names that not only will you hear this week, but on Sundays in the future.

The Owls offense often gets overlooked, but they score points every single week. Temple has scored 20 or more points in 18 straight games, the fourth longest streak in the FBS. The teams ahead of them? Oklahoma (47), Ohio State (34), and Clemson (21).

Anthony Russo has thrown for 1,503 yards and 13 touchdowns thus far, and he has an assortment of weapons to work with in their passing attack. Isaiah Wright is dynamic and gets touches in a variety of ways. Jadan Blue and Branden Mack are big plays waiting to happen at any time.

The running game sets everything up for Russo as Re’mahn Davis and Jager Gardner have provided the Owls with a terrific one-two punch. Davis has been be a star as he leads all true freshman in rushing, and those 575 yards are good for 25th in the FBS. They run behind Matt Hennessy, one of the best centers in the country, and an offensive line that opposing teams have said looks like a Big Ten unit.

SMU Mustangs Outlook

Coming out of the bye week, this is where the rubber meets the road for the 19th-ranked Mustangs this season. SMU currently sits atop the AAC West at 6-0 looking to continue their undefeated start. Temple is carrying a lot of momentum into Dallas this week looking for back to back upsets vs ranked teams. SMU must execute on offense to stay perfect in the win column this week. Temple is pretty strong defensively and if SMU gets down early it will be far more challenging for them to score quickly like they did in their comeback win over Tulsa 2 weeks ago.

Shane Buechele leads the AAC in passing yards with 1,665 so far this season and must maintain that offensive consistency this Saturday. James Proche solidified himself as the hottest receiver in the conference last week so look for him to have a big day again this week.

SMU WR James Proche is T-11th in the country in receiving TDs with 7 through 6 games.
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The key matchup this week will be how well the SMU secondary plays against a sneaky good Temple passing attack. The secondary must contain Anthony Russo and limit big plays to control the game. Russo’s numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, but he is a strong leader for Temple and will come to play on Saturday. The SMU secondary is currently giving up 259 yards per game through the air, and gave up four touchdowns in their last outing against Tulsa. Look for the front seven to pressure Russo more effectively than they did in their last game. Effectively pressuring Russo will take pressure off the secondary.

An interesting storyline to follow throughout the game will be how well each team handles the opposing pass rush.

- SMU’s defense has totaled 26 sacks this season (T-4th in the country)

- Temple’s offensive line has only allowed 7 sacks this season (T-15th in the country)

- Temple’s defense has totaled 15 sacks this season (3rd in the AAC)

- SMU’s offensive line has only allowed 6 sacks this season (T-10th in the country)


Joe: A lot of people are pointing to Temple’s two wins over ranked teams this season as a reason to back the Owls. Both of those games were at home, coming down to the final minutes with a few breaks going their way.

But then, there is the road loss to Buffalo. They played a sluggish game at ECU. This week they travel to SMU and Buechele is the best quarterback they’ve played all season. SMU has had an extra week to game plan and stay undefeated. With that said, don’t be surprised if there is a rematch between these two the first week of December.

Temple 27 - SMU 30

Crawford: SMU must start hot out of the gate and score quickly to set the tone. This will be a very physical game won or lost at the line of scrimmage. It will be competitive early and Temple will stay in it most of the game, but SMU goes ahead and stays ahead in the 4th quarter. Temple covers the 7.5-point spread and the over will hit (I feel like O/U 60 is kind of low).

Temple 33 - SMU 38