Temple Owls Look to Bounce Back Against 1-7 SMU Mustangs

Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls wide receiver Brandon Shippen (17) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
After losing a nail-bitter to Notre Dame, the Temple Owls look to get back on track against the SMU Mustangs; however, they face a unique challenge.

After losing a nail-bitter to Notre Dame, the Temple Owls look to get back on track against the SMU Mustangs; however, they face a unique challenge.

Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls wide receiver Brandon Shippen (17) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls wide receiver Brandon Shippen (17) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. (Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Six days after the 24-20 loss to Notre Dame, the Temple Owls are in Dallas to face Southern Methodist. Although SMU enters the contest at 1-7, the Mustangs present a unique challenge for the Owls.

SMU head coach Chad Morris is in his first season at the school. Formally the offensive coordinator at Clemson, Morris’s spread, up-tempo style offense is putting up decent numbers in its first year.  Currently ranked sixth in the conference in total offense (414 yards a game) and scoring offense (28.8 points a game), the team has not had too much trouble moving the ball.

Quarterback Matt Davis has at times looked like an upper-tier quarterback in the AAC. The junior currently has 21 total touchdowns (14 passing & 7 rushing). There have been spurts where accuracy has been an issue, completing 56.4 percent of his passes.

The Mustangs will run the ball out of many different formations. The read-option and jet sweeps will force the Owls defensive line and linebackers to be disciplined in their assignments. One player to watch out for in this game is Courtland Sutton.  Do not be surprised if you see him playing in the NFL in a few years. An early candidate for Freshman of the Year, Sutton has eight touchdown catches, one in each of his last five games. He is a big receiver (6’4, 215 pounds) who can get separation and make tough catches.

Oct 31, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) makes the catch in front of Tulsa Golden Hurricane safety Michael Mudoh (1) during the second half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Tulsa won 40-31. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) makes the catch in front of Tulsa Golden Hurricane safety Michael Mudoh (1) during the second half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Tulsa won 40-31. (Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

With an offense that is putting up decent numbers, why are the Mustangs 1-7? The reason is the defense. SMU gives up an average of 524.4 yards a game (11th in the AAC). One thing that the Owls must be salivating at is the fact that SMU ranks 123rd out of the 128 FBS teams in rush defense (258.5 yards a game allowed). If Jahad Thomas (ribs) can play, Ryquell Armstead and the other running backs could all do well.

With the Owls facing a porous defense and SMU having trouble finding ways to win games in 2015, on paper it should be an easy win. However, Temple is currently plagued by injuries. Center Kyle Friend is out with a knee injury.  Brendan McGowan played a few snaps against Notre Dame and held his own.  Wide receiver Ventell Bryant also may be out along with linebacker Nate D. Smith and cornerback Tavon Young.

Coming off an emotional and physical game against Notre Dame, playing a team like SMU is dangerous. Being a veteran team, the Owls will stay focused on the task at hand and open the game up in the third quarter.  Temple should move to 8-1 Friday night.

Prediction: Temple 38, SMU 16

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