DALLAS (AP) — SMU and Temple are trying to establish a bit of momentum on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off wins last week, Temple its first for new coach Matt Rhule. The Mustangs (2-4, 1-1 American Athletic) and Owls now are trying to win consecutive regular-season games for the first time since the middle of the 2012 season.
“You have to do that week after week. We haven’t won in the conference yet. We haven’t won on the road yet,” Rhule said. “Maybe it’s a good thing it took us so long to get that first win. We stopped looking for the magic. That one play or moment to change things. We know now that we have to go out and work hard and make plays to win it. I think they bought into that.”
In their 33-14 win over Army, the Owls (1-6, 0-3) had their first two interceptions since last October. They also scored their first defensive touchdown in three years.
Temple has been sparked on offense by P.J. Walker, the true freshman quarterback who Rhule said plays with a lot of energy. Walker has completed 22 of 38 passes for 403 yards with four touchdowns while starting the last two games, and also ran 12 times for 75 yards.
A week after facing the nation’s top rushing team, the Owls face one of the nation’s top passing teams.
SMU senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert is second in the nation with 35 completions a game, and fourth with 349 yards per game. Jeremy Johnson is the AAC leader with 10.3 catches per game and 123 yards receiving per game, while Darius Joseph is second with 9.3 catches per game.
Five things to know when SMU and Temple play for the first time in 67 years:
FIT TO BE TIED: Temple and SMU played long before they were in the new American Athletic Conference together. Those previous two meetings were both back in the 1940s, and both games ended in ties. When they played in 1942, it was a 6-6 tie in a steady rain at the Cotton Bowl stadium. Their last meeting was in 1946, a 7-7 deadlock after SMU jumped offside on a missed extra-point for Temple, which then made the second-chance kick.
JUST HOLD ON: SMU got its first AAC victory last week, but the Mustangs made it much tougher than it could have been. They held on to win 34-29 at Memphis after having a 34-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. The one-win Tigers scored 26 consecutive points, including linebacker Ryan Coleman twice returning fumbles for touchdowns. Memphis had two other scoring plays in the fourth quarter negated by penalties. In their last home game three weeks ago, SMU lost 55-52 in triple overtime to Rutgers.
TACKLING MACHINE: Temple sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the AAC with 95 tackles, 71 of those solo stops. In the national rankings, Matakevich is the leader with 11.1 solo tackles a game and is second with 13.6 total tackles per game. He also has a team-best seven tackles for loss, and had one of the Owls’ interceptions against Army.
YOUNG OWLS: Quarterback P.J. Walker isn’t the only true freshman who has gotten on the field for Temple. The Owls have already used 13 true freshmen this season. Only Texas A&M (17), UCLA (16) and LSU (14) have used more true freshmen.
FIRST COACH: Ray Morrison was SMU’s first coach, leading the Mustangs in 1915 and 1916, then returning from 1922-34. After his second stint at SMU, Morrison later went to Temple from 1940-48 and coached against his former team.
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