SMU Mustangs (2-1, American) vs TCU Horned Frogs (2-0, Big 12)
Time and Date: 12:00 PM ET, September 24
Broadcast Network: ESPNU
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium - Dallas, TX
ESPN FPI: SMU, 51.7%
Line: Pick em’, -110 for both teams*
Point Total: 69*
All-Time Series: TCU leads the all time series against SMU, 51-42-7
Last Meeting: SMU 42, TCU 34 - September 25, 2021
Current Streak: SMU, 2
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
SMU lost a heart breaker on the road last week to Maryland. In the third quarter, SMU trotted out the field goal team for a 49-yard attempt to potentially go up 10. The Mustangs missed the kick and gave Maryland a second wind. The Terrapins scored a touchdown to tie the game at 27. Then, they picked off QB Tanner Mordecai for the second time and scored on the ensuing drive to take a 34-27 lead halfway through the fourth quarter. That is ultimately where the score finished.
We didn’t learn anything new about the Mustangs during this pivotal game. QB Tanner Mordecai is still the leader of this team as he threw for 369 yards and 3 TDs. Rashee Rice is a superstar wideout and caught 11 passes for 193 yards. Finally, SMU’s defense is serviceable in the American but may struggle against a step up in competition.
The recipe appears to be simple for Rhett Lashlee’s squad. Run the offense through Mordecai and let him air it out with 40+ passing attempts. Try to get the ball to Rice in space and let him torch the opposing defense. Finally, help out your defense by possessing the ball and giving them time to rest and reset on the sidelines. If SMU can do these three things, you like their chances.
This will be a difficult strategy to implement because TCU are coming off a bye week and two tune-up games. The Horned Frogs battered Colorado on the road 38-13 in Week 1 and followed it up with a 59-17 drubbing against FCS Tarleton State in their home opener.
Senior QB Max Duggan made his 30th start a memorable one against Tarleton as he passed for a career high 390 yards and 5 TDs. While the QB position has been long decided in Fort Worth, TCU got to explore their depth chart in all of their other offensive positions as they rotated 5 different running backs and threw the ball to 15 different receivers last week.
An interesting ripple into the Battle for the Iron Skillet is that Sonny Dykes moved from SMU to TCU in the off-season and took several assistants with him. He likely knows SMU’s roster better than his own teams since TCU hasn’t been tested yet. While Dykes may be operating at a talent deficit, can he overcome that with inside knowledge of his former team’s strengths and weaknesses?
The margins for the game are razor-thin. We don’t know much about TCU’s potential yet or how SMU will react to a heartbreaking loss. Ultimately, we know more about the Mustangs so I will pick them to win 38-34.