It was a Friday night standalone game on ESPN.
That national stage was the fuel the SMU Mustangs needed to piece together their best performance of the year. The Mustangs stormed into Temple’s home in Philadelphia and eviscerated the Owls in every fashion possible. The result was a 55-0 evisceration — the third largest win over an FBS team this year, only trailing Oklahoma’s 73-0 thrashing of Arkansas State and Penn State’s 63-0 annihilation of UMass.
SMU out-gained Temple by a 4.3x multiplier in the yardage department, posting 563 yards compared to the Owls’ 131. All five sacks of the contest belonged to the Mustangs, and the third down discrepancy was enormous. SMU converted 10-of-15 third downs while Temple failed to convert a single of its 12 attempts. And although the sample size was smaller, similar results unfolded on fourth downs, where SMU finished a perfect 1-of-1 while Temple posted a goose egg on two do-or-die tries.
It was a near-perfect game for SMU, which decided to kneel the ball within five yards of the goal line to conclude the game, when an easy opportunity for a 60 burger was on the table.
Temple produced 24 rushing yards on 25 attempts, never gaining double-digit yards on a single run. The Owls were bereft of starting quarterback E.J. Warner who missed his second-straight contest with a concussion, and they shuffled between Quincy Patterson and Forrest Brock. Still, no offensive spark was found as Temple completed just 13-of-29 passes on the night.
Immense credit belongs to SMU’s defensive line, which made life difficult for the Owls for 60 minutes of game time. Elijah Chatman led the charge with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 of the team’s eight tackles for loss. Facing heaps of pressure from this unit on every snap, Temple only manufactured one play spanning 20 yards. But even despite the offensive ineptitude, the Owls were given two golden opportunities in the red zone to register points.
One drive featured a 1st and goal at the 1, but Temple squandered this chance in the second quarter when SMU stuffed several runs and sacked Patterson for a significant loss on 4th and goal. Another drive in the third quarter saw a 1st and 10 at the Mustangs’ 15, but a shanked 37-yard field goal kept the home team empty-handed in the City of Brotherly Love.
Offensively, it was the performance SMU craved all season. It was the Mustangs’ first time exceeding 38 against FBS competition this year, and they received substantial contributions from the passing game and rushing attack alike. While things started rocky with a fumble on a mishandled zone read on the opening drive, SMU quickly recovered from that debacle. Quarterback Preston Stone tied his season-high with 300 passing yards on 23 completions, firing touchdowns to Jordan Hudson and RJ Maryland in the blowout win.
It was as concerted of an effort as possible from the skill position groups. Ten different receivers logged a catch, led by Hudson who recorded a game-high 82 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. Meanwhile the run game collectively posted 205 yards and three touchdowns, led by Jaylan Knighton’s 64. The Miami (FL) transfer ignited the scoring effort for the night with the first touchdown in the opening quarter and everything flourished from there.
Offense and defense dominated to an overwhelming extent, but even more went right for SMU. The Mustangs registered their first punt return touchdown since 2013 in the third quarter when Roderick Daniels Jr. juked one tackler and hugged the sideline for a 67-yard sprint.
The lopsided affair produced Temple’s fifth consecutive loss, and the Owls surrendered at least 40 points in all five defeats. But the 55-point separation is the program’s second 50-point loss in two seasons, as it suffered a 70-13 obliteration at the hands of UCF last October — also on primetime national television. Temple (2-6, 0-4 AAC) is now on the verge of missing bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive season. The Owls enter their long-awaited bye week, as they hope to return Warner during the extended off period.
SMU (5-2, 3-0 AAC) is firmly in AAC contention after posting its first FBS shutout since 2011 and largest margin of victory over an FBS opponent since 1978. The Mustangs are off to their third 3-0 start to conference play since 2019, but this year’s team eyes a stronger finish en route to their first-ever AAC Championship Game appearance. SMU produced the 10th FBS shutout of the season, and the team generated positive offensive momentum into its upcoming matchup against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 28.