SMU bumps off No. 20 TCU in overtime
SMU hasn't enjoyed many stampedes since the days of Eric Dickerson and the Pony Express.
The Mustangs relished one Saturday.
SMU stormed the field after a fourth-down pass from No. 20 TCU fell incomplete in overtime, clinching a 40-33 upset of the Horned Frogs, just the second win over a ranked team for SMU since it was banished from football by the NCAA's so-called death penalty in the 1980s.
It looked like the Mustangs (4-1) would cruise to their biggest win in four years under coach June Jones, one of college football's most noted turnaround artists. But SMU coughed up a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter before J.J. McDermott started overtime with a 19-yard scoring pass to Jeremy Johnson, McDermott's fourth TD pass of the game.
SMU won it when TCU quarterback Casey Pachall couldn't get his team in the end zone after throwing three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. His toss on fourth-and-2 was tipped and bounced off the chest of TCU's Brandon Carter, prompting a wild SMU celebration that also marked the end of TCU's school-record 22-game home winning streak.
''What a win. It's been a long, long time coming,'' McDermott said. ''We were up. They stormed back. I'm ecstatic, so proud of our guys.''
Even though TCU (3-2) scored 23 fourth-quarter points, the Mustangs also were moving the ball behind McDermott and Darius Johnson, who repeatedly teamed up for big third-down completions, starting with a 13-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive. The pair hooked up on a 21-yard score to put the Mustangs ahead 33-17 barely a minute after Pachall had thrown his first TD pass on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
McDermott and Johnson did it again on a 32-yarder on third-and-17 midway through the fourth before TCU finally stiffened.
After forcing a punt, the Frogs drove 77 yards to a field goal, then SMU's Kenneth Hacker hesitated a yard deep in the end zone and was tackled at the 10 on the subsequent kickoff. The Frogs held and had to drive just 46 yards to the tying score, a 4-yard pass from Pachall to Luke Shivers with 1:16 remaining.
TCU pulled a similar rally in the opener against Baylor, scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter to take a 48-47 lead before letting the Bears drive to the winning field goal. That loss ended TCU's 25-game regular-season winning streak, and now the Horned Frogs' streak of 46 straight weeks in The Associated Press Top 25 is in jeopardy.
''The bottom line is we've come back twice and come up short,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ''Our kids did everything the could to get to that point, but you've got to find a way to finish.''
Both of SMU's post-death penalty wins over ranked teams have come against TCU. The other was in 2005, a week after TCU entered the rankings with an upset of Oklahoma. SMU is off to its best start since going 5-1 in 1986, the year before the program was shut down.
''It's a step in the right direction,'' SMU coach June Jones said. ''Every time this happens, it's another barrier to get through.''
SMU's Zach Line entered the game second nationally with 11 touchdowns, but the biggest play from the linebacker-turned-running back came on the kickoff coverage team to start the second half. He stripped TCU's Greg McCoy inside the 10, and Chris Parks recovered in the end zone for a 24-10 lead.
The Mustangs rode the momentum swing from that play until TCU's big rally in the fourth quarter.
The Frogs, coming off an unprecedented three straight seasons with the nation's top defense, gave up more than 450 yards for the second time this year. The first was in the Baylor loss.
The loss also jeopardizes TCU's streak of 46 consecutive weeks in The Associated Press Top 25 rankings.
The Horned Frogs couldn't stop SMU on third down and were having trouble getting first downs themselves for the most first half. The problem was best illustrated early in the second quarter when TCU had second and less than a yard and couldn't keep the ball. Ed Wesley lost 4 yards, and Waymon James fell down short of the first-down marker after catching a short pass from Pachall.
Wesley turned things in TCU's favor in just one play, though. He ran through a huge hole in the middle of the line and skirted through the secondary before he was caught from behind on a 63-yard run to the SMU 3. Matthew Tucker scored two plays later to cut SMU's lead to 17-7.