The Temple Owls and the SMU Mustangs were in a shootout that proved everything is bigger in Texas, but the 22nd-ranked Owls came out on top, despite the multiple threats from the Mustangs.
Temple off to hot start
In the first quarter, it was all Temple. The Owls got the scoring going early and in a huge way. Running back Jager Gardner started with the ball on his own six yard line and took it 94 yards to the house to put Temple up 7-0 early. The 94 yard rush from Gardner is the longest rush in Temple football history. With under three minutes to go in the quarter, quarterback P.J. Walker found wideout Robby Anderson in the endzone for a six yard touchdown pass to add to the Owls’ lead, making it 14-0.
SMU gets back into game
Come the second quarter, SMU got their offense going and got back into the game. Less than a minute into the quarter, Mustangs kicker Chad Hedlund converted a 31 yard field goal to get the Mustangs on the board. Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Matt Davis kept the ball himself and punched the ball in for a six yard touchdown run, cutting the deficit to 14-10. Two minutes later, SMU was back at it. This time, running back Xavier Jones got the ball on the 13 yard line and found the endzone to give the Mustangs their first lead of the night at 17-14. Temple did respond before the half was over, as Walker hit wideout Romond Deloatch for a 16 yard touchdown with only 24 seconds left in the half to put Temple back on top, 21-17. That would be the scoreline heading into the half.
Scoring really kicks off
Starting the second half, the Owls added to the scoreboard first. Walker found wideout Adonis Jennings in the end zone for a four yard touchdown pass and Temple extended their lead to 28-17. However, SMU was quick to respond as Jones got the handoff and took it nine yards for the score and brought SMU back in it, only down 28-24. However, Temple had started to pull away as Jahad Thomas had a two yard touchdown rush following a 46 yard bomb from Walker to Anderson, extending the lead to 35-24. Temple forced an SMU turnover deep in their own territory but only managed to get a field goal out of it, giving the Owls a 38-24 lead.
The fourth quarter began with SMU driving and capping off a six play, 77 yard drive with a 30 yard touchdown pass from Davis to Jeremiah Gaines to bring the Mustangs within a touchdown. On the first play of the ensuing drive for Temple, Walker ran a play fake and found wideout Ventrell Bryant who ran over half of the field and scored for a 75 yard touchdown. The Owls were back up by two scores, 45-31. Later in the quarter, Temple was punting from the end zone but a holding penalty occurred, which resulted in a safety against Temple, making it 45-33. On the punt following the safety, Braeden West fielded the return from the 20 yard line and took it to the house, bringing SMU to within five with eight minutes left in the game. Despite the comeback attempt from SMU, they failed to score at all in the remainder of the game and could not complete the upset. Temple did manage to score two more times in the game. On 3rd and 10 late in the game, Walker could not find any receivers open and kept it himself, running for 36 yards for a score. Temple converted on a two point conversion to make the score 53-40. Defensive back Sean Chandler proceeded to pick off Davis and took the pick to the house, making the score 60-40. However, that score does not reflect how the game was played at all.
P.J. Walker was the standout star of the game as he played phenomenal football. Walker went 18/25 (72% completion rate) while throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Walker also had one rushing touchdown on the night, totaling five touchdowns on the evening as he was the focal point of the offense.
Temple is now 8-1 on the season, staying undefeated in the conference, and is looking to continue to move up the College Football Playoff Rankings, where they currently sit 22nd. Next week, the Owls travel to South Florida to take on the Bulls.
SMU falls to 1-8 on the year, despite being close in many of their games played against tough opponents. The Mustangs will travel to Navy next week in another tough matchup and hopefully pull out their second win of the season.