TCU (2-1) at SMU (2-1)
When, where: 7 p.m. Friday, Gerald J. Ford Stadium
TCU attempts to retain possession of the Iron Skillet for a fifth consecutive season in its longtime rivalry with SMU. The contest marks the final nonconference contest of the regular season for the Horned Frogs, who opened Big 12 play with last week’s 41-20 triumph over Iowa State. This contest marks TCU’s first road game of the season and the teams enter with a set of scoring statistics that run counter-flow to the personalities of their coaches.
TCU, led by defensive-minded coach Gary Patterson, is outscoring SMU by more than 20 points per game. The Frogs average 46 points per contest while SMU averages 25.3. The Mustangs, under offensive-minded coach Chad Morris, have limited opponents to 25 points per game. TCU has allowed 34 points per game.
In this matchup, several things stand out:
Where they are similar: Both teams are coming off less-than-stirring victories. TCU’s Patterson cited his team for a lack of emotion in last week’s triumph over Iowa State, a contest that saw the Cyclones (0-3) finish with more offensive plays (83) than the Horned Frogs (72) while topping their season averages for yards and points. SMU knocked off Liberty, an FCS school, by a 29-14 count last week to secure its first victory in two games started by freshman quarterback Ben Hicks. Hicks, the first signee of the Morris regime, took over the starting job when incumbent Matt Davis was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered Sept. 3 against North Texas. Both starting quarterbacks have struggled with interceptions. TCU’s Kenny Hill has thrown three and the Horned Frogs are minus-3 in turnover margin. Hicks has thrown five interceptions, including two in the Baylor end zone during a 40-13 loss to the 16th-ranked Bears on Sept. 10.
Where they are different: Despite some issues with turnovers, TCU’s offense has averaged 571.7 yards and 46 points per game under Hill. The transfer from Texas A&M ranks fourth nationally in total offense among FBS players and is one of only four players topping the 400-yard mark (400.3 yards per game). Running back Kyle Hicks (225 yards, five TDs) has been a productive alternative in keeping the Frogs’ attack balanced. SMU has not topped the 34-point mark in any game this season, with Ben Hicks struggling statistically in the early stages of his college career. The Waco Midway product has a 48.2 completion rate (41-of-85) and has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (two).
Notable recent developments: TCU receiver/kick returner KaVontae Turpin, who ranks second in all-purpose yards among Big 12 players (169.3 average), is out indefinitely because of a knee injury sustained against Iowa State. Patterson is expected to lean on Deante Gray (kickoffs) and Desmon White (punt) as his primary returners while Turpin is out but other options are under consideration. SMU has developed a play-making defense that collects its share of turnovers after struggling in that area in recent seasons. The Mustangs have forced 10 turnovers in three games and are plus-2 in turnover margin this season. In addition, RB Braeden West rushed for a career-high 220 yards and two TDs in last week’s victory over Liberty.
Trends: TCU has settled three of its last five games in multiple overtimes: the final two of last season, plus a double-overtime loss to Arkansas on Sept. 10. TCU has the Big 12’s best combined record (25-4) since the start of the 2014 season and has won 14 of its last 16 meetings against SMU. TCU coach Gary Patterson has a career mark of 12-2 against SMU and is 9-6 in short-week contests. The Mustangs have averaged 490.7 yards of total offense in their first three contests, an increase in productivity of 28 percent over last year’s mark through a similar stretch (382.8). Although TCU leads the overall series 48-40-7, SMU holds the edge in games played in Dallas (22-21-2).
TCU: LB Ty Summers (26 tackles), LB Sammy Douglas (25 tackles), RB Kyle Hicks (75 rushing yards per game), QB Kenny Hill (345 passing yards, 55.3 rushing yards per game).
SMU: WR Courtland Sutton (13 catches, 336 yards, 4 TDs), DE Justin Lawler, who has 4.5 sacks and 5.5 TFLs.
3rd down conv.
TDs in red zone