For more than a decade, SMU has played a big role in the TCU football program.
In 2005, the Mustangs’ upset victory cost TCU an unbeaten season. It came one week after the Horned Frogs had opened the year with a landmark win, their 17-10 stunner at top-five Oklahoma.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has never forgotten that lesson.
One win had taken on too much importance. He had allowed media to his practice the next day. The sense of accomplishment became so great, he believes, the team didn’t get ready for SMU the next week.
He tells his team the story every year.
“It’s an annual thing,” he said.
“I’ve been here four years,” linebacker Travin Howard said. “I’ve heard it before.”
This year, as the Frogs prepare to host SMU on Saturday, it has added relevance because No. 20 TCU is coming off a sound 28-7 victory at Arkansas. The Frogs entered as field-goal favorites and won by three touchdowns at an SEC venue.
It was a good win, Patterson acknowledged.
But as the Frogs got rave reviews for their performance, he instinctively knew the tale of SMU 2005 needed to be told more than ever.
“It’s the perception you guys put out there how big a game that they win, that that was a big win,” Patterson told reporters Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “When that happens, then everybody goes into a fury. That usually carries over to them. I’m usually better off when people are telling my kids they’re not very good. Then they put their backs against the wall.”
Trouble is, TCU may very well be very good.
The Frogs have not trailed in a 2-0 start, and they rank fourth in the country in scoring defense and total defense.
It’s going to be hard to convince Patterson’s group that they are an underdog this week. (Because they aren’t).
Hence, the trusty SMU scenario.
“That was the first thing that came out of his mouth,” quarterback Kenny Hill said. “You know, you can’t take these guys lightly because of the way they’ve played us the last couple of years. We’ve definitely got to be focused.”
The last time the Mustangs visited Fort Worth, they hung 37 points in Chad Morris’ first season as coach. He returns now in his third year with the nation’s fifth-highest scoring team and one of the nation’s best receivers, Courtland Sutton.
Their 2-0 start — just their second since 1996 — was built on victories against Stephen F. Austin and North Texas.
The Mustangs have played no team more often than TCU. TCU has played only Baylor more than SMU.
“I think I saw where they say they’re trying to win the Metroplex trophy, because they beat North Texas,” Patterson said. “That’s one of their goals.”
No one can say Patterson didn’t sound the alarm.
He doesn’t want another story to tell.
TCU vs. SMU
2:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU