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It’s an American Athletic Conference clash as the 6-1 (3-1 American) SMU Mustangs are in Philadelphia for a Brotherly Love battle with the 1-3 (1-3 American) Temple Owls on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. This game was originally scheduled for a Thursday night kickoff, but the league pushed it back two days to accommodate Temple’s unfortunate rash of injuries, coupled with the potential of positive COVID-19 tests further depleting their roster.
Temple Tough But Undermanned
Playing last weekend wasn’t ideal for the Owls, who were without nine players on their two-deep chart, including starting quarterback Anthony Russo. Consequently, Temple fell to Tulane for the first time since the 1935 Sugar Bowl, 38-3. The Owls rotated two different quarterbacks, neither of which could generate much offense or momentum, resulting in just 222 yards of total offense, compared to 504 for the Green Wave. Temple has now allowed at least 30 points in all four of their games this season, with their only win against South Florida by two points as a two-touchdown favorite.
These Mustangs Have Horsepower
The Temple defense could be in store for more trouble Saturday as SMU has scored at least 30 in all but one of their seven games this season. They’ve posted totals of 50, 65, and last week’s 51 in a 14-point win over Navy. Quarterback Shane Buechele is second in the AAC in passing yards and third in touchdown passes. In last year’s meeting with Temple, he set career highs with six touchdown passes and 457 passing yards in a 45-21 win that kept the Mustangs undefeated at 7-0. The six touchdowns remain his career-high, but earlier this season, Buechele eclipsed the yardage record when he tossed for 474 in a three-point win over Memphis.
His top two targets this season have been Rashee Rice and Reggie Roberson, Jr, who are 4th and 5th in the conference in receiving yards, respectively. But by no means are the Mustangs one dimensional, as Ulysses Bentley IV leads the AAC in rushing yards (695) and rushing touchdowns (10).
Betting Line and Pick
SMU is favored in this one, laying 14.5 on the road, with an over/under of 64.5. While the league may have done Temple a favor by pushing back the game to Saturday, it might be delaying the inevitable, especially if Russo isn’t able to return from his shoulder injury. He was a game-time decision last week, which might indicate that extra rest could mean he’ll be ready for SMU.
But even if Russo suits up, issues are still plentiful for the Owls defensively. Look for Bentley to have a big day as Temple allows 213.5 YPG on the ground, second to last in the AAC, in front of just Navy. Bentley just went for 149 and two scores against the Midshipmen last week. SMU keeps the train rolling despite the schedule change.
Pick: SMU -14.5