Slow starts finally came back to haunt TCU.
After falling behind by 17 points in the second quarter, TCU rallied to score 23 in the fourth to force overtime against SMU but ran out of miracles and lost 40-33 to the rival Mustangs.
It was the Horned Frogs' first home loss since October 2007, a string of 22 consecutive wins. TCU had won four in a row against SMU and hadn't lost to the Mustangs since 2005.
SMU quarterback J.J. McDermott connected with Jeremy Johnson for a 19-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Mustangs the lead in front of 35,632 fans at Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU, which had answered several double-digit leads by the Mustangs, could not answer this time.
Casey Pachall's pass to Brandon Carter on fourth-and-2 fell incomplete on TCU's overtime possession to clinch the Iron Skillet for the Mustangs, whose bench emptied onto the field after the play.
"It's real tough," Pachall said. "After getting off to a slow start and being able to bring our way back and have it happen like that is never easy to swallow."
No. 20 TCU (3-2), which has been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 for 46 straight weeks, dating to 2008, is likely to find itself left out today when the new poll is released.
The Mustangs (4-1) built a 17-0 lead after McDermott threw touchdown passes to Darius Johnson and Terrance Wilkerson. Wilkerson's went for 71 yards, invoking horrible memories of the season-opening loss at Baylor when the Bears burned TCU for six touchdown passes.
"There are some things you can't do if you're going to be a championship-type program, and we did them today," TCU coach Gary Patterson said, referring to the secondary getting beat downfield. "They kicked their butt. If I had an answer for it I'd write a book and not put my life in the hands of 18-year-olds."
But TCU drew within 17-10 before halftime as Ed Wesley, in his first game back since the opener, busted free up the middle for 63 yards to set up Matthew Tucker's 1-yard run. Ross Evans' 42-yard field goal with no time left before the half made it 17-10 and the momentum seemed to be swinging toward the Frogs.
That changed quickly when SMU running back Zach Line forced Greg McCoy to fumble on the second half kickoff, leading to a touchdown by Chris Parks on the recovery. Suddenly, TCU was in a two-touchdown hole again seven seconds into the second half.
"We thought we could go down and tie the game and all of a sudden they're back up 14," Patterson said. "We didn't play like it was a big game. Or maybe we did and they just played better."
After a field goal stretched SMU's lead back to 17, Josh Boyce scored on an 8-yard reception to cut the deficit to 10. TCU, seeing a chance to get back in the game, tried an onside kick, but Evans' kick sailed out of bounds, setting up SMU near midfield. McDermott hit Johnson for a 21-yard scoring strike moments later. The extra point failed, leaving the Frogs trailing 33-17 with 13:38 remaining.
Pachall led a furious 16-point burst for the Frogs, including a 4-yard play-action pass to Luke Shivers to tie it at 33-33 with 1:16 remaining and force overtime.
"They came to hit us in the mouth and they did," Pachall said. "We couldn't match it at first, but then we finally got it under control. Even though they had just scored, I felt like we still had the momentum, but we just weren't able to execute and came up short."
SMU celebrated as if it had won the national championship. The game was intense at times with several personal fouls called.
"It's a big win for us. I was very emotional out there," said Darius Johnson, who finished with 152 yards on a season-high 12 receptions. "I really don't like these TCU people. So it was good to get a win."