Temple (1-7, 0-4 American Athletic) led, 28-7, with 3 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first half, but from that point, SMU (3-4, 2-1) hit the Owls with a barrage.
The Mustangs scored the next eight times they had the ball.
"I thought that drive right before the end of the first half really killed us," said Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich. "They went 95 yards in a minute or two, and that was definitely a big part of the game."
"For the first 25 minutes we slowed them down playing base defense," said Temple defensive back Abdul Smith. "Guys were already celebrating. Guys were getting complacent, but hey, watch the Rutgers game. Their offensive coordinator made some adjustments and really hurt us in the second half."
Temple was just not able to find a way to stop the bleeding.
"We mixed in some zone and man-to-man, but at the end of the day, you have to get to the quarterback, and he hurt us with this legs," Rhule said.
Gilbert ended up with 97 rushing yards on eight carries, and he completed 37 of 53 passes for 538 yards and four touchdowns.
Just how effectively he had the SMU offense running was illustrated with 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter. In an attempt to keep up with the Mustangs, and facing a fourth and 2 from their own 33, the Owls faked a punt and tried to run for the first down. But Kenneth Harper was thrown for a 5-yard loss, giving SMU a short field.
"We were wearing down, we were about to go three and out, and I didn't want to put the defense right back on the field," Rhule said. "I didn't think it would be fair to put the defense right back out there when we were reeling."
Rhule was pleased with Temple's strong start, and even more pleased with the play of his quarterback, freshman P.J. Walker, who ended up running for 92 yards on 14 carries and completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns.
"The good news for us is that both quarterbacks played very well today, and ours is a freshman," he said.
"So we're just going continue to develop him."