No. 20 TCU braces for prolific SMU attack (Sep 16, 2017)
FORT WORTH, Texas -- When TCU and SMU, schools separated by 39 miles across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, renew their storied rivalry Saturday, there will be more the just pride on the line.
Both teams are undefeated and have looked impressive in the first two games of the season.
No. 20 TCU out SECed Arkansas last week, owning the line of scrimmage and outmuscling the Razorbacks on the road.
SMU has scored 112 points in wins over Stephen F. Austin (58) and North Texas (54). Quarterback Ben Hicks and receiver Courtland Sutton will test a TCU defense that has allowed a total of 333 yards in the first two games.
The Horned Frogs and Mustangs will be vying for the Iron Skillet, which, but for two occasions, has resided in TCU's trophy case the past two decades.
TCU enters 2-0 for the 10th time in 17 seasons under coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs are looking to go 3-0 for the ninth time. SMU is 2-0 for only the second time in 20 years.
The Mustangs haven't been 3-0 since 1984.
"The Skillet hasn't been on the Hilltop (SMU) much," said SMU coach Chad Morris, in his third season at the school. "Two cities, two universities that go way back. It's a great opportunity for us. This is the best TCU team we've faced since I've been here. They're as prepared as anyone we'll face.
"This is the best team we've taken over there."
The game at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium marks the 97th meeting in a series that dates to 1915. Except for 2006 and the two seasons in which SMU didn't play because of the death penalty -- 1987 and 1988 -- the programs have played every year since 1925. Most of those games were played when both were members of the Southwest Conference.
The Frogs have won the last five games and 16 of the past 20 meetings.
TCU is heavily favored in this one, as well. Yet, the game on paper intrigues.
TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and fourth nationally in scoring defense, having allowed only seven points in two games. The Mustangs rank fifth in the country at 56 points per game.
For TCU, like past years, this game represents the sports proverbial "trap," particularly a week before Big 12 play begins against No. 9 Oklahoma State.
"I talked to them about the OU game in 2005," Patterson said of TCU's victory over No. 7 Oklahoma and Adrian Peterson in Norman. At the time, it was TCU's biggest upset in 45 years. "If we want to achieve our goals, you can't get to four wins without three.
"We understand the kind of game we're going to get into. SMU has scored a bunch of points."
Last week against North Texas, SMU did it with its marquee wide receiver. Sutton, a 6-foot-4, 216-pounder who has "Sundays" and "NFL" written all over him, had 163 yards and four touchdowns, all thrown by Hicks.
Sutton is rated the 22nd-best overall prospect for the 2018 draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
In a victory over Arkansas last week, TCU was able to successfully limit Razorbacks possessions by controlling the ball on offense and getting off the field on defense. Arkansas ran 54 plays last week.
SMU ran 75 plays last week. TCU ran 73 against Arkansas and dominated time of possession, markedly in the second and fourth quarters.
TCU quarterback Kenny Hill is off to a good start, completing 72.2 percent of his passes (39 of 54) in two games. He threw for 166 yards and ran 11 times for 35 yards against Arkansas.
Running back Kyle Hicks, who sat out the opener with an undisclosed injury, carried 12 times for 44 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards versus Arkansas. Hicks amassed nearly 1,500 total yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a junior last season.
How well SMU can manage to get TCU's offense off the field will dictate its long-shot chances.
"Our season is not going to be defined by a win or loss in one game," Morris said. "It's about getting your guys prepared for conference play."
Now, if SMU could find a way to win, well, yeah, "it would be huge for this program, this university."