Oct 24, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs quarterback Shane Buechele (7) looks down field against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the second half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 18 SMU confident ahead of matchup vs. Temple

One of a handful of programs left relatively unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic, No. 18 SMU will travel this week to face a conference opponent on the opposite end of that spectrum.

The Mustangs (6-1, 3-1 American Athletic) will play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday in Philadelphia. SMU has had just one game postponed this season, its non-conference showdown with rival TCU. Conversely, Temple did not kick off its season until Oct. 10 and played last week in New Orleans with nine members of its two-deep unavailable.

“I think our players are very comfortable with the protocols our league has, that college football has,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “I think our guys have tons of confidence that every team in our league — and for that matter every team that we’ve played this season — has handled this the right way. And there’s no doubt in my mind and in their minds that Temple is following those protocols that whoever is healthy will be there on Saturday.”

The matchup with the Owls will challenge SMU in terms of travel. Two of the Mustangs’ three previous road games were against in-state competition and the third was in New Orleans at Tulane. The trip to Philadelphia will present obstacles SMU has yet to face this unusual season.

“Our mantra all year has been to go above and beyond what we need to do to keep our players healthy and be able to play games,” Dykes said. “We just have had very little issue at all up until this point. That doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s going to go for the last month of the season, but to this point, that’s the way it’s been. We’re still as cautious and more cautious than ever.”

Temple (1-3, 1-3) will be without fifth-year senior quarterback Anthony Russo for a second consecutive game this weekend. Russo was sidelined by a shoulder injury in the Owls’ 38-3 road loss to Tulane, and while the malady isn’t considered structural, Russo is hampered enough that he will be unable to practice in advance of the matchup with the Mustangs.

The Owls averaged 32.3 points per game with Russo under center. Russo made 17 consecutive starts prior to last Saturday and has passed for 868 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

“Could he be ready by Saturday? I think there’s an outside opportunity for that physically,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “But certainly he would not have practiced all week and that can’t happen. Anthony understands that and he’s obviously disappointed, but my first job is to make sure that the team we field out there is safe. I don’t think that would be a proper situation to put him in.”

Carey will again platoon redshirt sophomores Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell at quarterback, with Beatty set to start against SMU. Carey was hopeful that one of his two signal callers would catch fire with Russo sidelined, but that gambit did not manifest. Beatty finished 11-of-18 for 122 yards with an interception against the Green Wave while Mitchell went 5-of-8 for just 23 yards. Tulane sacked Beatty three times while Mitchell paced Temple with 37 rushing yards in the loss.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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