TCU prepares to round out their non-conference schedule as they host the SMU Mustangs in the annual Battle for the Iron Skillet. The Horned Frogs look to make it eight in a row against a surging SMU squad that is 3-0 for the first time since 1984.
SMU – who has won this game only twice since Gary Patterson’s been coaching the Horned Frogs – would love nothing more than to knock off a Top 25 opponent for the second time under new head coach Sonny Dykes. That’ll be tough, though, as TCU rides into this one hot off last week’s blowout win over Big Ten opponent Purdue.
- When: SAT, SEP 21 at 2:30 PM CT
- Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium
- Forecast: Mostly Sunny, High of 91
- TV: FS1
- Stream: FOX Sports Go
- Betting Line: TCU -9.5, O/U 55
SMU Mustangs (3-0)
After a less than optimal 5-7 season Mustangs in Sonny Dykes’ first year, SMU finds themselves without a loss to start Year Two. Dykes came into Dallas with plenty of offensive acumen on his resume, but his initial offense was less productive than some of those the new head coach has enjoyed previously.
After bringing on Texas transfer quarterback Shane Buechele, however, the Mustangs offense has been humming to start the 2019 campaign. SMU is currently averaging 44.3 points per game, and Buechele – a multi-year starter at his previous stop – boasts a 151.7 quarterback rating. He has a deep corps of wide receivers to work with, including senior James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr., each of whom are capable of 1,000 yards receiving in 2019.
Despite Dykes’ background in the Air Raid, the Mustangs have been running the ball almost 60 percent of the time this season, averaging 249.7 yards per contest. Leading the charge is Xavier Jones, who already has seven touchdowns so far this season.
The defense for the Mustangs returned nine starters from a 2018 season in which they allowed 35.3 points per game, and thus far that experience seems to have helped them become a much more improved unit. That’s been especially true of the run defense, which is holding opponents to 105.5 yards a contest.
TCU Horned Frogs (2-0)
For TCU, this season was potentially a bounce back year from a 7-6 finish a year ago. Patterson’s 2019 team has made good progress on that goal so far, winning both contests they played by multiple possessions.
Per usual, this team is led by its defense, and there’s a feeling that the unit could be one of Patterson’s best. They’re currently holding teams to 3.6 yards per play, and a big reason for that is linebacker Garrett Wallow, who leads the team with 23 total tackles. Also worth mentioning is All-Big 12 cornerback Jeff Gladney, who already has an interception through two games.
Offense is where TCU has struggled through two games. The Horned Frogs entered 2019 with a quarterback controversy, but true freshman Max Duggan seems to have taken the reins. Though his numbers were not great in TCU’s 34-13 win over Purdue, with Duggan taking snaps, TCU rushed for over almost 350 yards on the ground.
The Horned Frogs have two backs that can shoulder that kind of load in Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. Along with an improved offensive line, TCU should have a stout run game in 2019. The Horned Frogs will also look to get the ball to junior Jalen Reagor, who’s one of the most explosive athletes in the country.
3 Keys To The Game
Avoid Turnovers – Nothing could really give the Mustangs an advantage in this game than if TCU makes big mistakes like turnovers on offense. Turnoverse would give the SMU offense an extra possession, and could potentially put the defense in a bad spot.
Tackle, Tackle, Tackle – Tackling will be especially important for the Horned Frogs in this game. They need to prevent big plays and avoid giving up yards after the catch. If they can limit the SMU offense to picking up small chunks of yardage, they’lll keep the Mustangs in check.
Win The Line Of Scrimmage – In order to have success in this game, TCU will need to be able to control the line on both sides of the ball. They can stifle SMU’s offensive attack when TCU’s on defense, and enable the Horned Frogs’ offense to pick up rushing yards up the middle of the Mustangs’ defense.
This will be an interesting matchup to pay attention to given that this might be the best team that SMU has brought to this contest since Gary Patterson’s been the head coach at TCU. If this game were being played in Dallas instead of Fort Worth, it would be very tempting to think that the Mustangs could get one of their first wins in years.
This game will be a test of the TCU offense, which has had its struggles. SMU will likely be able to put up some points against the Horned Frogs on defense, but for the most part TCU should keep them in check. Defensively, the Mustangs are likely going to try and make TCU throw the ball in order to prevent the Horned Frogs from getting going on the ground.
I believe that the Horned Frogs will be able to do enough at home to get the win, but I think this year’s SMU might be for real, and will cover the ten or so point line this game’s set at right now.