TCU head coach Gary Patterson is aware of the importance Saturday’s game against TCU holds. He is no stranger to the value fans and universities put on beating rivals. For his Horned Frogs, SMU is one of the biggest.
The two programs will face-off in the battle for the Iron Skillet for the 100th time Saturday in Fort Worth at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Last time out, SMU won 41-38, stopping TCU’s latest streak at seven. Fans would certainly like to get another streak going with a win this weekend.
While players on both teams have been engaging in the usual rivalry talk, Patterson has kept things in perspective, commenting, “For us, it’s to get to 3-0, keep climbing the mountain, the goals of getting where we want to get to as a football program. And so SMU is the next one.”
The goal, of course, is to win the conference and make it to one of the bigger bowl games, if not the College Football Playoffs (CFP). Winning the Big 12 would go a long way to getting the Horned Frogs into one of the marquee bowl games (if not the CFP). With Oklahoma not looking like their usual dominant selves, the door is open for a new champion to emerge.
Since this is a non-conference game, a loss will not impact their standing in the conference. But a win against a team playing as well as SMU is a good test for his team as it prepares to get conference play underway next week against Texas.
Patterson expressed some frustration during a recent press conference when someone asked about the Texas game. He said, “The only way you get to win 12 ballgames, which we need to get back to winning, is you have to do it one at a time. This game is just as important, or more important than playing Texas next week.”
From the comments making the rounds on social media, it sounds like his team is focused on the task at hand—beating SMU and getting the Iron Skillet back. After losing in 2019, many looked forward to the chance to win it back last year. But with the havoc the pandemic wreaked on college football last season, the game did not happen.
TCU will have the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd this weekend. But it will not be easy to beat SMU despite most sportsbooks making them 9.5-point favorites.
The SMU passing game is one of the better ones in the nation (12th; 341.3 yards/game). Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai leads the nation in touchdowns with 16. The Horned Frog defense has not been bad against the pass this season (49th overall while allowing less than 200 yards/game).
But they gave up 309 yards and two touchdowns to Cal in a game that included many big plays.
However, this season, the SMU defense has struggled, which could be the break TCU and its fairly balanced offensive attack needs.