FORT WORTH — The Iron Skillet is staying in Fort Worth after TCU’s 34-17 victory over SMU at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs took advantage of excellent field position to take an early 7-3 lead and put the game away as they ran for 16 yards and outscored SMU 17-7 in the second half.
SMU had the game’s first possession, driving the ball down to TCU’s six-yard line as it established its rushing attack behind running back Camar Wheaton and kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Mustangs’ defense forced TCU to punt on its first possession, but its offense could not work itself out of the shadow of its end zone, giving the Horned Frogs excellent field position at the SMU 46. TCU quarterback Chandler Morris connected with tight end Jared Wiley for the first of two first-half touchdowns to take a 7-3 lead.
The pair would connect again on the next TCU possession to go up 14-3 in the second quarter.
“We’re just learning to trust each other more and just kind of figure each other out more,” Wiley told the media after the game. “I think that will just continue to climb as the season goes on.”
After establishing the run and struggling to get anyone open down the field, SMU quarterback Preston Stone finally found a receiver, completing a pass to Roderick Daniels for a 44-yard gain. The play moved the Horned Frogs into the red zone, and Wheaton scored on a two-yard run to cut the deficit to four just before halftime.
TCU wasted no time adding points in the second half, scoring on each of its first three possessions and outscoring SMU 13-0 in the third quarter. The Horned Frogs ran for 122 yards in the quarter, stopped the Mustangs on a 4th-and-2, and intercepted SMU quarterback Preston Stone twice to take control.
In the fourth quarter, TCU ran a fake field goal that failed to convert. As SMU looked to capitalize, Stone connected with Jordan Kerley for 51 yards to reach the red zone again. This time, his third-down pass was intercepted by Bud Clark in the end zone to keep the Horned Frogs ahead by three scores.
Tyler Lavine added a late touchdown for SMU, but the Mustangs were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick. TCU added a late touchdown as Morris found tight end Chase Curtis with just over a minute remaining.
Morris finished the game with 261 passing yards and three touchdowns, and running back Emani Bailey added 126 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Stone threw for 258 yards and two interceptions for SMU, while both the Mustangs’ touchdowns came on the ground.
WHAT TO KNOW
— TCU won the Battle for the Iron Skillet for the second consecutive year, taking a 53-42-7 lead in the all-time series.
— The Horned Frogs have beaten the Mustangs in 13 of the last 15 matchups.
— TCU head coach Sonny Dykes is now 2-0 against his former squad.
— SMU lost at Amon G. Carter Stadium for the first time since 2017.
BY THE NUMBERS
— TCU’s defense entered the game with 60.7 rushing yards allowed per game. SMU ran for 123 yards in the first half but only 35 in the second.
— TCU now holds an 8-1 record at home under Dykes and a 16-0 record when tied in or winning the turnover battle.
— TCU outgained SMU 457-416, becoming the first team to outgain the Mustangs this season.
— SMU finished with less than 20 points for the second time this season.
— TCU quarterback Chandler Morris on the offense’s improvement: “We’re close. I tell them all the time that the top is going to blow off. We’re very close, and it’s just a matter of time. There’s going to be a moment that it’s going to happen, and everyone believes that, and we’re still playing really good football offensively. We’ve just got to go finish drives, and that’s kind of been the big thing. It’s just a work of progress.”
— SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee on the second half: “We just didn’t come out in the third quarter with the execution we needed. We got behind guys, kept battling, but you can’t do that on these kinds of games on the road if you want to win.”
— TCU (3-1) returns to Big 12 play against West Virginia (2-1) at 7 p.m. CT next Saturday. SMU (2-2) returns home to take on Charlotte (1-2) in its American Athletic Conference opener at 6:30 p.m. CT that same day.