By Zach Walker
Saturday – October 26 – 2:00 PM
Gerald Ford Stadium – Dallas
The Temple Owls are coming off of their biggest win of their season; actually it was their first win of the year. Behind the arm of freshman quarterback PJ Walker and the strong running attack of the entire Owls’ backfield. PJ Walker made the most of his opportunities to showcase his arm talent, completing 10 of 16 pass attempts for a very efficient 12.7 yards per throw and two touchdowns. He also threw a pick; it was a throw that just sort of sailed towards the inside of the field, where the corner had the positioning to get the ball. It wasn’t a bad pick; it was a ‘learning’ interception for the freshman.
The Owls do their damage on the ground, with a very balanced attack of junior Kenneth Harper and freshman Zaire Williams. The combination has 726 rushing yards between them, and nine of the team’s 11 rushing touchdowns. But the two are more than just hammers, they get the job done in the passing game, with 285 yards combined yards, they are a couple of well-rounded backs. The Owls don’t have too much in terms of a top receiving threat, Ryan Alderman and Jalen Fitzpatrick are the top options, but the Owls are definitely more of a running team.
The Mustangs are also coming off a win, their first conference win, and are looking for their second, and their first back-to-back victories of the season. The Mustangs got up early against Memphis, and despite their best effort, which included great defensive plays; the deficit was too much for the Tigers to overcome. The Mustangs did a great job on defense, limiting running back Brandon Hayes to his second worst average-per-carry total of the season, and forcing Paxton Lynch to beat them, and at least statistically, Lynch had his best game of the season. He completed over 70% of his passes, and at times looked poised. But the Mustangs came up big when they needed to, having defensive end Beau Barnes pick Lynch off with a little over two minutes left in the game, basically sealing the deal for SMU.
Against Temple, the Mustangs are going to have to do more of the same that they did a week ago, control the line of scrimmage, control the clock with a nice dosage of Traylon Shead and the occasional Garrett Gilbert scramble for a first down, and of course, keep the penalties down. The Mustangs had only three penalties for 30 yards, I know, you’d want those numbers to be zero, but that’s not going to happen, but if you stop committing the bone-head, drive halting penalties, you have a great shot to keep it all going on the up-and-up and finish drives with points, instead of punts.
Matchup of the Game: Temple RBs Kenneth Harper and Zaire Williams vs SMU LBs Randall Joyner and Kevin Pope
Prediction: Temple 21 – SMU 30