The SMU Mustangs are back from the dead thanks to Shane Buechele and Sonny Dykes’ Air Raid offense as they have opened the season with seven straight wins for the first time since the 1982 season.
Any concerns from the last outing against Tulsa were erased as Buechele threw for 457 yards and six touchdown passes - both career highs - in the No. 19 Mustangs victory over the Temple Owls, 45-21, in Dallas on Saturday.
Reggie Roberson was on the receiving end of three of Buechele’s touchdown passes as the junior wide receiver also set a career high in receiving yards with 250 on eight receptions. Roberson was behind the defense all afternoon as he caught touchdowns from 75, 60 and 33 yards out. He also had a 54-yard catch that set up a SMU field goal.
SMU (3-0 American) remains undefeated at 7-0 and with Boise State’s loss to BYU on Saturday night, they have a real shot at being in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The seven wins match their win total of the last two seasons.
The Mustangs ran 109 plays on offense as Temple’s defense struggled to contain the passing attack. Every time the Owls got it close, Buechele carved up one of the better pass defenses in the nation to keep it out of reach. Temple’s defense had allowed five passing touchdowns all season.
Lost in the terrific game for Buechele is that the ground game racked up 198 yards as well. Xavier Jones rushed for 105 yards, and scored the last points of the game on a 5-yard touchdown reception.
Temple (5-2, 2-1) struggled on the road once again as they trailed early, similar to the starts of the road games against Buffalo and ECU. It was 17-0 after Roberson’s 75-yard touchdown, and each time the Owls pulled it within 10, SMU answered with another touchdown of their own.
Anthony Russo finished 18-of-32 for 171 yards with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Branden Mack, and also added a 1-yard rushing score. Re’Mahn Davis scored the other touchdown for the Owls, but was limited to 54 yards rushing on 16 carries.
They were particularly putrid on third downs, going 4-of-16, while SMU was 10-for-21 when needing to convert. Owls’ receivers dropped passes all afternoon and Temple had just 106 total yards in the first half.
As head coach Rod Carey said after the game, the Owls have “a lot to fix on all areas.”
The Owls will go back to friendly confines where they have won nine straight home games when UCF comes to Philadelphia. Kickoff for the AAC East showdown is set for 7 p.m. EST and the game can be seen on ESPN2.
SMU will look to keep their perfect record intact on a short week as they travel to Houston for a battle inside the AAC West on Thursday night. It is a 7:30 p.m. EST start for the in-state rivals and the game will be aired on ESPN.