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SMU vs. TCU Iron Skillet battle set for Saturday

The Associated Press


SMU (1-2) at TCU (1-2), 11 a.m. CT Saturday (Fox Sports 1)

Line: TCU by 19½.

Series record: TCU leads 45-40-7

WHAT'S AT STAKE

The Iron Skillet, which goes to winner of game between only FBS teams in Dallas-Fort Worth market. Both teams trying to avoid 1-3 starts. TCU hasn't been 1-3 since 1999, when Gary Patterson was still defensive coordinator and Frogs finished 8-4. SMU started 1-3 last season, but recovered for 6-6 regular season and school-record fourth straight bowl bid.

KEY MATCHUP

The SMU passing game combination of coach June Jones and passing game coordinator Hal Mumme vs. TCU's 4-2-5 defense loaded with experienced cornerbacks and safeties. The Mustangs have thrown for 1,046 yards and quarterback Garrett Gilbert, the nation's leader with 38 completions per game, has team-leading 103 of Mustangs' 339 yards rushing. The Frogs have given up 676 yards passing with more interceptions than TDs allowed (5-4).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

SMU: Linebacker Kevin Pope leads Mustangs with 30 tackles (12 solo, 18 assists). He also has 4½ tackles for loss and team-high 1½ sacks.

TCU: Cornerback Jason Verrett has shut down pair of high-profile receivers in head-to-head matchups this season. Texas Tech's Eric Ward was held without catch while LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. had only one catch for 8 yards.

FACTS & FIGURES

TCU has won 11 of the past 13 against the Mustangs, whose win in 2005 was only loss by the Horned Frogs that season. ... The Frogs are 25-8 in regular-season games following loss under Patterson. ... TCU has eight sacks this season, by seven different players. ... Over past 31 games, SMU is 16-0 when scoring first and 0-15 when opponent scores first.

STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU and SMU have been playing regularly for nearly a century, even after going their separate ways.

There is even a disputed national championship between the two schools — back in 1935, when both claim national titles that are recognized in the NCAA record book. SMU did win the head-to-head game that season.

And there is the unique trophy up for grabs Saturday when the two BCS teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth market play for the Iron Skillet.

For most players these days, though, it's just the next game on the schedule instead of a huge rivalry going into its 93rd meeting. It is the last non-conference game for both teams trying to avoid 1-3 starts.

"Play them just like we play everybody else," TCU running back B.J. Catalon said. "After this game, the next opponent will be the most important opponent."

Both teams went to the WAC in 1996 after the breakup of the Southwest Conference. But TCU jumped in 2001 to Conference USA, the league SMU went to in 2005 at the same time the Frogs joined the Mountain West Conference.

"I think it was more (of a rivalry) when we were all in the same league," said Gary Patterson, in his 13th season as TCU's head coach. "It carried a lot more balance then when you were playing. You're not in the same league, so you think about each other early in the year and then you don't think about it anymore."

SMU, whose only win this season was a last-minute 31-30 victory at home against FCS team Montana State, next makes its American Athletic Conference debut at home against Rutgers.

TCU is playing for first time in 16 days after losing its Big 12 opener at 24th-ranked Texas Tech. The Frogs follow SMU with a trip to No. 14 Oklahoma for the first of seven consecutive weekends of conference games.

Here are five things to know for the latest Frog and Pony show:

GOING FOR TWO: Each team needs a victory. TCU hasn't been 1-3 since 1999, when Patterson was still the defensive coordinator. The Frogs overcame that to go 8-4, and had more than two losses in a whole season only four times in Patterson's first 12 years. SMU started 1-3 last season, but recovered to go 6-6 in the regular season and get to its school-record fourth bowl game in a row.

NOT ALONE: Sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin, back in the starting lineup after Casey Pachall broke his arm, completed 23 of 36 passes for 194 yards and ran 20 times for 101 yards in the loss at Texas Tech. "The biggest thing Trevone has got to understand, he's got to use everybody else," Patterson said. "'We've got some good players at the running back and wide receiver positions. He can't try to do it all by himself."

MAKING THEM COUNT: While SMU has won only twice in the 11 games in the series since TCU was no longer a conference rival, both wins had significance. After the Horned Frogs opened the 2005 season with a win at seventh-ranked Oklahoma, they lost 21-10 at SMU the following week — their only loss that season. When they last played in Fort Worth two years ago, TCU scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime before the Mustangs pulled out the win. The Frogs then won their last eight games, clinching an undefeated MWC title and winning a bowl game.

HEALTHY MUSTANGS?: SMU could get back two key players who haven't played since the season opener, but loses another. Linebacker Randall Joyner and running back Traylon Shead both got hurt against Texas Tech. Joyner injured his knee, and former Texas transfer Shead injured his knee after a horse-collar tackle. But Der'rikk Thompson, one of their starting receivers, is out 5-6 weeks with a leg injury.

WINNING IS THE CURE: TCU isn't used to having two losses this early in the season. "What people don't understand, whether it's in football or anything in life, losing is a disease ... if you let it go, it spreads," Patterson said. "Losing can't be tolerated, no matter what's happening."
 

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