No. 15 TCU goes to SMU, last team to beat Frogs
TCU coach Gary Patterson wanted to quickly set the record straight this week before playing SMU again.
For anything the coach said in frustration after last year's loss to the Mustangs, one thing was clear.
''If I was going to do the press conference over again last year, what I would tell you after watching film is SMU kicked our butts,'' Patterson said unprompted this week. ''Both sides of the ball.''
Since that 40-33 home loss last season, when they scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs (3-0) have an FBS-best 11-game winning streak.
Now they get a chance to get back the Iron Skillet, the unique trophy that goes to the winner of the Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry that dates back to 1915. The 92nd meeting in the series between former SWC rivals, which TCU leads 44-40-7, is Saturday on the Hilltop.
''It eats at us, but SMU is just the next team on the schedule,'' said Josh Boyce, who last week became TCU's career leader with his 18th touchdown reception.
''There's no vendetta. We need to get to 4-0. For us to get to 4-0, we've got to beat SMU,'' Patterson said. ''It's not one of those games where you're looking for revenge or anything. Good programs don't do those kinds of things. ... Good programs, you win.''
SMU (1-2) has struggled with new quarterback Garrett Gilbert and five new starting offensive linemen.
The Mustangs won 52-0 against FCS team Sam Houston State. But they lost a pair of games to FBS teams from Texas - by 35 points at Baylor in their opener and 48-3 at home to Texas A&M in their last game before a weekend off.
''We're the last team that's beaten them. We broke a string at their place so I'm sure they're motivated. Our guys probably feel the same way,'' Mustangs coach June Jones said. ''We've had a good couple weeks of practice. Garrett has been picking it up and the offensive line is back healthy again. We've got a chance I think to do a lot better.''
The Mustangs' victory last year, only their second in the past 12 meetings in the series, ended a 22-game home winning streak for the Frogs.
''TCU is TCU and that's been the motivation since I've been here. Something happens when TCU comes,'' Jones said. ''It's a game for me, just like all of them are but the kids over the years have a different competitiveness in that game.''
This is an interesting three-week span for the Frogs, who play on the road against the only two teams that beat them last year - SMU and Baylor, now one of their Big 12 rivals. Their first-ever Big 12 home game, against Iowa State, is between those.
Yet, they seem solely focused on the Mustangs.
''The same way you approach every other game. We're not making it a big game,'' defensive back Sam Carter said. ''We don't think a game ahead or a game behind. Games that happened last year, we leave them in the past.''
Then again, the Frogs have already played 15 true freshmen who weren't even part of the two losses last season.
TCU has given up only one touchdown this season and leads the nation allowing only 4.3 points per game.
On the side of the ball for the Frogs is Casey Pachall, the FBS' most efficient quarterback. He has completed 76 percent of his passes (54 of 71) for 841 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception.
Gilbert, who as a freshman played for Texas in the BCS national championship game in January 2010, has a completion percentage of 53 (76 of 144) with more interceptions than TDs (four to three). The Mustangs also have bruising running back Zach Line, Conference USA's leading rusher the last two seasons who is averaging just under 100 yards a game this year.
''I think it's a great opportunity. Their defense is one of the best in the nation over the past five years and this year isn't any different,'' Gilbert said. ''They're athletic, they're fast and they're big, they're very well coached, they run to the ball and they tackle well, so that's everything you can ask for in a defense. But that's what you look for. You want to do it against the best.''