UNIVERSITY PARK -- TCU took what SMU gave it Saturday on a rain-soaked night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
In the end, the Mustangs' six turnovers, including five interceptions thrown by quarterback Garrett Gilbert, helped the Horned Frogs overcome their own sloppiness and survive with a 24-16 win in front an announced crowd of 28,436.
But a steady downpour before, during and after the game kept a majority of the crowd away, although a hearty bunch of TCU fans remained until the last miserable, soggy second ticked off the clock.
"I was glad we survived it," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Every time I've ever come into this ballgame it's been like this. It doesn't matter what the records have been. We're going to have to play a lot better football against Iowa State to get a win."
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The 15th-ranked Frogs (4-0), who resume Big 12 action at home against Iowa State on Saturday, will have plenty of areas to brush up on.
For starters, TCU nearly had as many penalty yards -- 140 yards on 13 penalties -- as its offense had yards in the game -- 156, thanks to several big negative plays on special team miscues. The 156 total yards was the lowest TCU offensive output since 1997.
It's the most penalty yards for TCU since the Frogs had 140 on 11 penalties against Stephen F. Austin in 2008 and matches the fifth-most in school history. SMU (1-3) wasn't much better, finishing with 10 penalties for 92 yards.
But TCU's defense was again up for the task that its own offense threw at them, recording the most interceptions in a game since Houston's Jimmy Klingler threw five in 1992.
"Getting six takeaways is a big deal," Patterson said. "As many other things we screwed up, we had to do it that way to win. Whoever screws it up less is probably going to win and that's pretty much what happened tonight. And I'm not sure that we didn't screw it up more and just got lucky."
SMU receivers, however, would probably challenge Patterson's assertion. The Mustangs dropped over 10 passes in the game. TCU receivers had some drops as well, but quarterback Casey Pachall also struggled with his accuracy in the wet conditions.
"When I saw the weather I knew the defense was going to have to step up," said safety Elisha Olabode, who returned an interception 51 yards to set up TCU's second touchdown of the first quarter. "It's a rainy game, that's a defensive game."
Said receiver Skye Dawson: "The weather just ruined a lot of stuff, caused a lot of dropped balls, we just had to focus in more."
After Brandon Carter's fumble was recovered by SMU, TCU's Chris Hackett, making his first start at weak safety, got the ball back by recovering Zach Line's fumble and returning it 11 yards to the SMU 41. LaDarius Brown caught Pachall's 10-yard pass for a touchdown to give TCU a 7-0 lead with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
On SMU's ensuing possession, Olabode's long interception return set up Pachall's two-yard scoring pass to Matthew Tucker for a 14-0 lead.
TCU led SMU 21-10 after a sloppy, penalty-filled first half. The Frogs turned two Mustang turnovers into touchdowns.
But TCU, which committed 11 penalties for 102 yards last week against Virginia, wracked up 11 for 120 yards in the first half Saturday evening. Six of those penalties were personal fouls, including a horse collar tackle by Olabode on a 17-yard pass play that gave the Mustangs the ball at TCU's 23. Line scored on a 21-yard run a play later, breaking a couple tackles along the way, to cut the Frogs' lead to 14-7.
The teams twice traded punts before Dawson returned one 64 yards to the SMU 4 to set up a scoring run by Matthew Tucker.
Pachall, who had thrown for 300 yards in his previous two games, finished 10 of 26 for 107 yards. SMU dropped eight passes in the first half and Gilbert finished the game 15 of 40 for 190 yards.