Temple Owls at #19 SMU Mustangs: Game Preview

Will Peruna be running wild by the end of the game? Photo Courtesy: Amy Wagliardo

By Zach Walker

Game Info
Temple Owls vs #19 SMU Mustangs
Saturday – October 19 – 2:30 p.m.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas, TX

Records Before the Game
#19 SMU Mustangs: 6-0; 2-0 in AAC (Last Week: Idle Week – No Opponent)
Temple Owls: 5-1; 2-0 in AAC (Last Week: W vs #23 Memphis Tigers 30-28)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball
I saw a ton of genuine internet-garbage about fans “storming” the field two weeks ago, when SMU kept their undefeated season alive by securing the win over the rival Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the third overtime. “Why? It’s just Tulsa?” F*** that haters, there isn’t a player on a field in college football born the last time SMU was a ranked team. They erased a 21 point hole they dug for themselves in the fourth quarter. The Golden Hurricane had a 98.3 percent win probability at the open of that fourth quarter. I’ve covered this SMU team for a handful of seasons, so I’m confident when I say, I’ve seen this school give these types of “big” games away before. When they had a hot hand in Xavier Jones, they rode him, as they should have. Feeling it in the overtime, the amperage was high and Jones fumbled, I’ve also seen that from this school, not finishing. The defense held for eight consecutive plays, Tulsa missed two field goals, and an aggressive call later, a tasty throw by Buechele and another in a reel by James Proche and the school that’s often thrown victory into the jaws of defeat, gets an historic victory to keep on truckin’ along on a fantastic 2019.

All that being said, what needs to not become a trend is the type of slow start that we saw against Tulsa. Temple upset a good Memphis team by taking advantage early of turnovers and poor play to hold off the Tigers. The call really was the right one, the tight end (with just the BEST name Joey Magnifico, I pray that he becomes a coach one day, or a car dealer, or a Vegas magician) really didn’t get clean capture on the pass. The Temple defense has some really solid pieces, guys that’ll get camp invites like Chapelle Russell (LB), edge rusher Quincy Roche, and cornerback Harrison Hand. The Mustangs are going to need to be stronger than they were in the first half against Tulsa to continue the hot streak.

When Temple has the ball
This is a balanced team, for sure. The Owls like to play with their food, so to say, by being as balanced, prolonging drives and finishing with points. The two backs for the Owls, Re’Mahn Davis and Jager Gardner, would seemingly have the same stats as one another except Davis has a hair over twenty carries more than Gardner, but either back just about averages a half a first down per touch, and that’s how teams sustain drives. Quarterback Anthony Russo started strong against FCS Bucknell, completing almost 80 percent of his passes, but in the four games since he only just reached the 60 percent mark in the Memphis game, but that’s what got the job done. The Mustangs are going to have to contain the running game and juice the mistakes out of Russo. The defensive line wasn’t getting their usual pressure through the most of the Tulsa game, but the cracks split late and the pressure helped turn the tide in the dangerous moments of the fourth quarter.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Getting the running game going EARLY; forcing Russo to throw his problems away; and get the Temple team chasing the Mustangs, not the other way around.

This game should be very entertaining with lots of scoring…

Final Score
SMU – 30
Temple – 24