No. 16 TCU heads east to Dallas this week to battle longtime rival SMU in the Battle of the Iron Skillet on Saturday at Ford Stadium, but Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson is having to work to keep his players focus on the task at hand rather than looking on the horizon.
After battling the Mustangs, TCU (1-0) will square off against Ohio State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington before beginning Big 12 play at Texas on Sept. 22.
The Horned Frogs swamped FCS opponent Southern University 55-7 at home in their season opener as sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson threw for three touchdowns to three different receivers and ran for two additional scores in just the second start of his career.
Freshman Derius Davis, who was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, caught a 12-yard TD from Robinson and later returned a punt 73 yards for a score as TCU won its 17th consecutive home opener as Patterson started his 18th full season.
“We did what we needed to do,” Patterson said after the win over Southern. “We only played 50-something plays of defense, so we’re not as banged up in getting ready for a Friday ballgame (against SMU).”
“We have an SMU team that is going to be better. They know a lot about us, so we need to get ready to play.”
SMU (0-1), a member of The Atlantic Athletic Conference, got shellacked 46-23 by fellow Metroplex rival North Texas in its season opener, surrendering 539 total yards of offense and the game’s first 36 points.
Ben Hicks, the Mustangs’ record-setting quarterback, managed 252 yards in the loss, with most of those — and SMU’s three scores — coming in the fourth quarter when North Texas emptied the bench. SMU also only possessed the ball for 15:47, just more than a quarter of the game, in coach Sonny Dykes’ regular-season debut with the Ponies.
“I was disappointed in the way we played, and obviously any time you don’t play well you’re disappointed in the way you coached,” Dykes said. “We didn’t do a very good job getting them prepared and I have to own it.”
Braeden West led the Mustangs with a rushing and receiving touchdown while James Proche hauled in a touchdown of his own against North Texas. Hicks also tied SMU’s all-time touchdowns mark (54 pass, 3 rush) with a pair, bringing his career total to 57.
Rodney Clemons tied his career high with 11 tackles, and graduate transfer Patrick Nelson added 10 tackles, three for losses, and a sack in his first game as a Mustang.
“I saw enough from our defense tonight to think that those guys have a chance to be pretty good,” Dykes said. “We gave up 460 yards passing but they were on the field (close to) 100 plays. I think we played good defense until we got fatigued and started missing some tackles in the second half.”
The Horned Frogs hold a 50-40-7 edge over SMU in a series that began with a 43-0 TCU win in Fort Worth in 1915. TCU has won 10 of the past 11 games with the Mustangs and 16 of 18. The Horned Frogs are 22-22-2 versus SMU in Dallas and 28-18-5 in Fort Worth.
SMU is TCU’s second-most played series; the Horned Frogs’ 97 meetings with the Mustangs trail only Baylor (113).