DALLAS (AP) — SMU’s improbable season remains perfect thanks to an aerial game that eliminated some of the high anxiety last seen when the Mustangs took the field.
Shane Buechele set career highs with six touchdown passes and 457 passing yards as No. 19 SMU improved to 7-0 with a 45-21 win over Temple on Saturday.
Reggie Roberson Jr. had a career-high 250 receiving yards on eight catches, including touchdowns of 75, 60 and 33 yards. The 33-yard score saw Buechele lead Roberson into the left corner of the end zone in tight coverage. On the two longer connections, Roberson got behind the secondary in the middle of the field with room to spare.
“We thought coming into the game we had some favorable matchups with some of our skill guys, and we had to execute,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “Shane obviously made some really great deep throws, and Reggie made some plays.”
“Our team does a really good job at taking it week by week and going 1-0,” Buechele said. “It’s always a goal to win, but to win that week – not just the whole season.”
The Mustangs have opened the season with seven straight wins for the first time since 1982, when they were 10-0-0 en route to an 11-0-1 finish. The seven-game winning streak is their longest since winning eight straight during the 1984-85 seasons and matches their win total of the previous two years.
SMU (3-0 American) remains in first place in the West Division. Dykes called it “certainly the most complete game I think we’ve played up to this point.”
SMU enjoyed an off week following its frenetic triple-overtime win over Tulsa at home on Oct. 5 when the Mustangs rallied from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Dykes said his team benefitted from the rest and last week put in the best practice week of his two years on the Hilltop.
“Throwing vertical routes is something that we always need extra work at, and we got it,” Dykes said. “It also gave us a chance to put a couple new wrinkles in.”
The week allowed Roberson to recover from an injury that sidelined him during the Tulsa game.
“When I came back and was ready to practice, I had some great practices,” Roberson said.
Buechele, in his first year at SMU after playing the previous three years at Texas, was 30 for 53 passing. He also threw touchdown passes of 10 yards each to James Proche and Kylen Granson and 5 yards to Xavier Jones. Buechele’s previous yardage high was 375 as a Longhorn in 2017.
Temple (5-2, 2-1) scored on a 1-yard runs by Ra’Mahn Davis and Anthony Russo and a 25-yard pass from Russo to Branden Mack. The Owls are one game behind first-place Cincinnati in the East.
“There’s a lot to fix in all areas,” first-year Owls coach Rod Carey said. “The good news is it’s correctable. The bad news is it cost us today.
“They caught us in the one-on-ones and took advantage and executed, and we did not.”
Temple appeared to pull within 17-14 in the final minute of the first half when Owls cornerback Christian Braswell returned a fumble by SMU receiver Myron Gaillard 75 yards for a touchdown. The officials reviewed the play and ruled that Gailliard’s left elbow and arm were down before the ball came loose. Seconds later, SMU scored its third touchdown to take a 24-7 lead.
Temple: Facing an undefeated opponent on the road, the Owls made too many mistakes. Dropped passes and one penalty negated multiple first downs. “We certainly had our eyes wrong at times,” Carey said.
SMU: The Mustangs went into Saturday ranked 99th in FBS pass defense allowing 259.3 yards per game but held Temple to 204 while continuing to be strong against the run (69 yards).
Temple: The Owls will try for their ninth straight home win next Saturday against UCF.
SMU: The Mustangs will visit Houston on Thursday night having lost six straight road games to the Cougars. “I go take a shower, go to dinner with a recruit and then start working,” Dykes said. “That’s the way it goes with a Thursday night game coming up.”
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