The Battle for the Iron Skillet was a barn-burner this year, as the Horned Frogs fell behind early, and made a gritty attempt at a comeback before falling just shy in the final score.
SMU made it clear that they meant business early, coming out and scoring on their first possession, and then turning a TCU fumble recovered at the 4 yard line of the Horned Frogs into a touchdown. With the two-point conversion, it put SMU up 15-0.
TCU would respond and cut the lead to 18-14, but a couple of big passing plays by SMU allowed the Mustangs to pull ahead 31-17 by halftime. The momentum began to swing TCU’s way in the third quarter, as the Horned Frogs took advantage of good field position with a Max Duggan passing touchdown and held SMU scoreless in the third.
The Horned Frogs seemed to really find their offense throughout the second half, but SMU responded in kind and kept the game just out of the Horned Frogs’ reach. Down 41-38, TCU had a chance to get into field goal position for the tie with just under a minute left, but the Horned Frogs were unable to convert a key fourth down and ended up falling by three points to SMU.
Key Plays Of The Game
1:59 1st [TCU 3rd & 12 at TCU 30] – Down 15-7, TCU was trying to drive down the field and possibly tie the game early. When the SMU pressure got to Duggan, however, he coughed up the ball and the Mustangs recovered at the Horned Frogs’ 30 yard line. The TCU defense would hold, but SMU still came away with a field goal to extend their lead to 18-7. SMU got 11 points off TCU turnovers.
13:49 2nd [TCU 1st & 10 at SMU 20] – After having picked off a Shane Beuchele pass into the endzone, the Horned Frogs were starting to regain momentum and cut into the Mustangs’ 18-7 lead. Anderson’s run was one the offense’s most explosive plays of the day, as he broke a couple of tackles and shot down the sideline. He was caught from behind just shy of the goal line, but would run it in on the very next play from the three yard line, to pull TCU within four points of SMU.
7:09 3rd [TCU 3rd& 12 at SMU 12] –This was one of TCU’s best passing plays of the whole night. Duggan came up big on 3rd down, hitting Pro wells in the back of the endzone for a score that pulled the Horned Frogs within a possession, 31-24.
Key Stats Of The Game
236 Yards Rushing – TCU continues to be able to have a lot of success on the ground, and their rushing attack is what allowed the Horned Frogs to keep pace with SMU early. With TCU down multiple scores late in the game, however, they were forced to go away from what is undoubtedly their strength, and threw the ball more.
44 Percent Passing – Duggan had a rough game early, but was really able to come back in the second half and come back from a start where he had one completion out of ten pass attempts.
-2 Turnover Margin – Probably the toughest statistic for TCU to overcome was the three turnovers that they had in the first half. SMU was able to get points off two of them, and that put the Horned Frogs in a hole early that they had to fight to try and get out of.
8 of 16 on 3rd Down – TCU made a lot of big plays on third down throughout the night, especially when they found themselves in unfavorable situations. Their ability to consistently convert and get big plays enabled TCU to keep pace in the shootout.
Players Of The Game
QB Max Duggan – 16/36, 3 TD, 188 yards, 11 carries, 7 yards
RB Darius Anderson – 19 carries, 161 yards, 2 TD, 2 receptions, 32 yards
CB Jeff Gladney – 4 tackles, 3 passes defended
Max Duggan Grew As A Passer Today – Despite the fact that they lost the game, Duggan improved as a passer throughout the contest. The TCU passing game really came alive in the second half, and provided a balance to the TCU offense that allowed them to score 24 points in the second half.
The Defense Gave Up Just A Few Too Many Plays- If you look at the box score, it’s hard to think that SMU had anything resembling a field day in Fort Worth. A total of 41 points doesn’t bespeak a great deal of defense, but what really killed the Horned Frogs were big plays that set SMU up in good field position.
TCU Is Nails On Special Teams – The Horned Frogs were solid on special teams all day. Both the actual returns they had – including a 23-yarder by Reagor on a punt return and a 47 yard kick return by Anderson – as well as the actual threat of those big plays allowed the offense to have good field position throughout the game.