Mustangs cruise behind Buechele, Roberson Jr’s career days in Temple win

The last time SMU was ranked inside the top 25, not a single player on the current roster was alive. In almost every way, what College Gameday has called the “rebirth” of SMU football is just as much a new frontier for the players as it is for the program. With this added hysteria surrounding the team, the question had to be asked of whether the Ponies were due for a letdown game. The response was a resounding no as Shane Buechele and company had career days in a 45-21 win over a ranked Temple team.

Unlike the comeback thriller against Tulsa, SMU controlled the momentum and the scoreboard for a full 60 minutes. Executing the game plan and exhibiting an extremely efficient offensive attack, the first drive of the game was a preview for the entire afternoon.

Buechele, just four minutes into the contest, hit a streaking Reggie Roberson Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown in what was the first of many to come. From there, SMU’s offense hit the ground running and raced out to a two possession advantage they would hold for the remainder of the contest. Temple applied token pressure on the Mustang offense to score at times, but the final outcome was never in doubt.

“I think it was the most complete game we have played up until this point. Overall I thought it was a good effort. Defensively I thought we tackled, played hard and played physical,” said head coach Sonny Dykes. “I thought the offense executed well.”

That may have been a slight understatement, as the Mustangs more than tripled the total offense the visiting Owls were able to produce. SMU tallied 109 offensive snaps, 34 first downs and 655 total yards. It was a clinic in efficiency, nearly converting half of their third down attempts and successfully completing three out of five fourth down tries.

SMU defeated Temple 45-21 at home on Saturday afternoon to extend their undefeated record. Photo credit: Julia Depasquale

Individually Buechele posted career highs in touchdowns thrown and yards. The transfer signal caller tossed six touchdowns, three of which were off plays of 30 yards or more. You would have to look way back to September 10th, 2016, to find Buechele’s previous high of four touchdowns when he was a freshman at Texas. To go along with that though, the quarterback also threw for a career high in yards at 457.

“It was a lot of fun, but we also left a lot out there. With that being said, the stats show a lot, but I had a lot of missed throws. There were a lot of missed opportunities,” Buechele said of his historic day. “It is important for us to go into the film room and see what we can do better, but we are happy to get this win.”

The only time SMU was in any danger in this game came early in the final frame. Temple quarterback Anthony Russo plowed his way into the end zone on a quarterback keeper to cut the Mustang lead to ten, 31-21. The Ponies squelched any sentiments of a comeback though, with Buechele once again finding Roberson Jr. for a 60-yard touchdown just one minute after the Temple score. Shortly after, the starters were pulled.

Roberson Jr. also raked in career numbers. The senior caught three touchdowns, seven passes for 250 yards receiving. The wideout was just a couple yards shy of the single game record in SMU history. Seeing mostly single coverage from Temple cornerback Harrison Hands, Roberson exploited the Owl secondary with four plays of 30-yards or more. Dykes said coming into the game he thought there would be “favorable matchups,” but Roberson put it much more bluntly.

“After I scored on one dude, another dude was out there. Then after I scored on him, another dude was out there. After I bombed another dude, they put another dude out there,” Roberson said. “I don’t know what was going on, but I think I went through every guy they had.”

The win now marks 7-0 for the Mustangs, who Buechele believes are the team to beat in the American Athletic Conference. No extending winning streak like this one though relies on just the starters, and SMU received significant contributions from down in the depth chart on defense. With starting cornerback Ar’mani Johnson dealing with hamstring issues in the second quarter, Robert Hayes Jr. came up with a plethora of big third down tackles to keep Temple’s offense reeling.

It is now on to a short week for the Mustangs, as they will travel to Houston to face the Cougars on Thursday night. With an abbreviated preparation time, Dykes said the turnover will need to happen as quickly as possible.