No. 23 Temple Owls still undefeated in AAC headed to SMU
DALLAS (AP) Even after its first loss, Temple is still undefeated in the American Athletic Conference - just like three of its league foes.
The 23rd-ranked Owls (7-1, 4-0 AAC) have to put last weekend's loss to eighth-ranked Notre Dame behind them and refocus on the conference race.
''I woke up Sunday, nobody cares, it's over, it's time to move on. It was a great football game,'' coach Matt Rhule said. ''I don't know that our guys have been through this. They haven't had heartbreak or a really disappointing, bitter loss in quite some time. We've got to move on.''
Temple plays Friday night at SMU (1-7, 0-4), which in its first season under coach Chad Morris is already facing its fourth Top 25 opponent.
Temple tops the AAC East Division, with a two-game edge over Cincinnati and USF. In the West Division, where SMU is at the bottom of the standings, No. 15 Memphis and No. 18 Houston - both ahead of Temple in the Top 25 and the initial College Football Playoff rankings - are 4-0 along with Navy.
The division winners play in the AAC title game, with the champion having a chance to get into one of the New Year's bowl games, if not one of the four playoff teams.
SMU has a chance to play spoiler, with games still left after Temple against Navy and a season finale at Memphis. Morris said the Mustangs have an improved team that has come a long way from where it started even without the results on the scoreboard yet.
''Even on days when it's cloudy at night and you can't see it, you have to trust that the moon is still there,'' Morris said. ''We are getting better. We are learning how to practice harder. We are competing so much harder in practice and competing on the field.''
A few other things about Temple and SMU:
KNOW THE FEELING: Temple was 1-7 after its loss at SMU two years ago in Rhule's first season as head coach. ''They're at the place right now that we were two years ago ... playing 23 freshmen,'' Rhule said. ''Our team remembers what it felt like. We played with no pressure, and we took everybody down to the wire.''
RANKED OUTCOMES: SMU's win over North Texas in September was sandwiched by losses to No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 TCU, the defending Big 12 co-champions. SMU hung with Baylor at home in the first half and was within five points at TCU midway through the fourth quarter. ''We're prepared for a 60-minute game versus a team that plays good football but has just had some heartbreaks,'' Rhule said.
ALMOST 1,000: Temple junior RB Jahad Thomas is 96 yards away from becoming the Owls' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012, and only the 10th player to do that since 1971. The former defensive back has scored at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season. He is averaging 113 yards per game, with 13 TDs.
BIG-PLAY PONIES: SMU dual-threat quarterback Matt Davis has 1,779 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions, and is also the team's top rusher (450 yards, seven touchdowns). His top target is true freshman receiver Courtland Sutton, who had a season-high eight catches for 165 yards against Tulsa last week. For the season, the 6-foot-4, 215-yard Sutton has 38 catches for 719 yards and nine TDs, scoring in all but one game so far.
LOT OF POINTS: The Owls' 59-49 loss to SMU two years ago was the highest-scoring game in Temple history. The Mustangs trailed 28-7 early in the second quarter before Garrett Gilbert threw the first of his six touchdowns. SMU set school records with 728 total yards and 34 first downs.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report
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