SMU (1-2) at TCU (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Amon G. Carter Stadium (45,000) -- Fort Worth, Texas. Television: Fox Sports 1. Home Record: SMU 1-1, TCU 1-0. Away Record: SMU 0-1, TCU 0-1. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, TCU 0-1. Conference Record: SMU 0-0, TCU 0-1. Series Record: TCU leads, 45-40-7.
GAME NOTES: The SMU Mustangs and TCU Horned Frogs will once again battle for the Iron Skillet on Saturday when they square off at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
These Lone Star State rivals have played each other in all but six years since their first meeting in 1915. TCU owns a 45-40-7 all-time series lead thanks to its 24-16 win over the Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium last season. The Horned Frogs have won five of the last six meetings and 11 of the last 13.
TCU will be the third opponent from Texas for SMU, which lost to Texas Tech (41-23) in its season opener and at Texas A&M (42-13) last week. The Mustangs split their losses with a 31-30 victory over FCS foe Montana State in week two. Coach June Jones saw his squad lose three of its first four games in 2012 before it won five of its final eight to become bowl eligible.
The Horned Frogs were idle last week following their 20-10 setback at Texas Tech that dropped them to 1-2 on the season. TCU began its year with a 37-27 loss to LSU and coasted to a 38-17 win over Southeastern Louisiana in week two. Coach Gary Patterson's team dropped out of the Top 25 after the loss to the Red Raiders, which was the first game without starting quarterback Casey Pachall, who is expected to be sidelined until November at the earliest.
TCU is 25-8 in regular season contests following a loss under Patterson. It has won 29 of its last 34 home games.
SMU could tarnish TCU's impressive home record with Pachall unavailable. The Mustangs offense has been able to rack up an average 461.7 yards of total offense per game, however they have struggled to finish off drives. They have scored touchdowns on only 3-of-12 red zone trips. Jones' preference of airing it out has led to a one-dimensional attack that owns the 10th most productive passing offense (348.7 ypg) in the FBS but a 102nd ranking in rushing yards per contest (113.0 ypg). Senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert went 37-of-62 for 310 yards and completed a pass to 10 different receivers in last week's loss to the Aggies. The former Texas Longhorn has already amassed 1,015 yards passing through three games. Gilbert tied the SMU record with his third consecutive 300-yard outing and has a great chance of taking sole possession if the Mustangs' running game remains ineffective.
Gilbert has been doing an excellent job of keeping the opposing secondaries honest by spreading the ball around to his top three wideouts. Darius Joseph is having a breakout sophomore season and leads the pack with 31 receptions for 285 yards. Seniors Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman have both surpassed the 20-catch mark and 215 yards receiving as well.
SMU had a reliable power rusher for the past three seasons in fullback Zach Line. The team's backfield took a significant hit when Line graduated as Gilbert is the leading rusher through three games with 103 yards on just 30 attempts. Redshirt freshman Prescott Line, the younger brother of Zach, is second to Gilbert in both carries (21) and yards (94).
SMU's defense had no answer for Johnny Manziel and the Aggies last week and allowed 581 yards of total offense in the loss. The Mustangs were solid against the run in their first two games, however that changed as Texas A&M tallied 265 yards on 48 attempts. Senior linebacker Kevin Pope has anchored the defensive group with 30 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
SMU will face another scrambling QB as sophomore Trevone Boykin is slated to start under center for the second game in a row for TCU. Boykin became the first player in school history to throw four TD passes in back-to-back games during his freshman year. In the loss to TTU, he gained a team-high 101 rushing yards to become the first TCU QB since 1987 to reach the century mark on the ground. Boykin struggled as a passer in the contest though, going 23- of-36 for 194 yards with two interceptions. Waymon James is the squad's top running back with 5.1 yards per carry and 41 yards per game.
TCU amassed 401 offensive yards in its last outing. It was held to just 10 points due to three turnovers, four allowed sacks and a 3-of-16 conversion rate on third down. Brandon Carter paced the Horned Frogs with five catches for 50 yards. LaDarius Brown made a big impact last year and finished second nationally among freshman with a TD catch every 5.4 grabs. He is due for a big game having caught only five passes for 39 yards through three games in 2013.
The Horned Frogs held their own against Texas Tech's dangerous pass offense and registered three interceptions in the loss. The Red Raiders averaged only 1.7 yards per carry and achieved 16 first downs to TCU's 23. Sophomore safety Chris Hackett made his second interception of the season, while senior defensive back Elisha Olabode led the group with eight tackles to bring his team-high total to 24.
SMU will not have a easy time scoring against a tough TCU defense in an unfriendly environment. The Mustangs need Gilbert to make smart decisions and on-target throws if they are going to put up a fight against their long time rivals. TCU's offense will be much more in tune this week now that Boykin has had time to settle into the starting role.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 41, SMU 28
09/25 10:32:44 ET