After TCU’s 42-34 victory over SMU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium Saturday afternoon, Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes is clearly the guy your girlfriend told you not to worry about.
In a very UFC fashion, the game itself was severely underwhelming. TCU started fast, played mediocre in the middle but mortal-combat-finished the Mustangs with a 63-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Emari Demercado, his second touchdown of the fourth quarter.
There was no flag-planting, no intense booing of Dykes by SMU fans and no Iron Skillet in sight after the game. The crowd was a sellout of 35,569, declared the largest for a regular season game in 23-year-old Ford Stadium. But the stands always felt kind of half-empty.
The 95-degree heat drove fans under the bleachers and out the gates after just 15 minutes of football. The fact that TCU went up 14-0 in the first quarter probably didn’t help. Or it could have been quarterback Tanner Mordecai’s 6-of-9 for 42 yards and a reverse touchdown (which is what I’m calling interceptions now) performance in the first quarter.
Mordecai eventually found some rhythm, finishing the contest 27-of-49 for 372 yards and two touchdowns and one more interception. And he even helped the Mustangs mount a comeback and outgain TCU 119-87 in the third quarter.
SMU Running back Tre Siggers had himself a little game, finishing with 19 carries for 60 yards and tying his career high three rushing touchdowns.
But offense has never been SMU’s problem, as Dykes well knows. Which is why the Mustangs said “we’ve had the old bull, now we want the young calf” and hired Rhett Lashlee, who has done well so far this season with his new team.
Clearly something must be done about the defense – TCU put up 487 yards on the Mustangs, averaging 7.5 yards per play. Quarterback Max Duggan finished 22-29 for 278 yards and three touchdowns and was complimented nicely by running back Kendre Miller and his 17 carries for 142 yards and one touchdown.
Fun fact: TCU scored for the 370th consecutive game, the second-longest streak in NCAA history. No. 1 is Florida at 426 games (1988-present). The Horned Frogs haven’t been blanked since Nov. 16, 1991, at Texas (32-0).
However, it wasn’t all pretty. The Horned Frogs were as undisciplined as they were efficient on offense, committing a total of 10 penalties for a loss of 94 yards. Unfortunately, the worst penalty of the game was committed by SMU wide receiver Austin Upshaw when he leapt over the wall of TCU players during a Jordan Sandy punt with 42 seconds left in the game, giving the Horned Frogs a first down and effectively sealing the Mustangs fate.
The Dykes era at TCU is off to a good start - with today’s win Dykes became the first TCU head football coach to win his opening three games since Francis Schmidt in 1929. Dykes is the 12th head coach since Schmidt.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Lashlee, not only because the Mustangs fall to 2-2 on the season but because he disclosed after the game that both Mordecai and his favorite target Rashee Rice played hurt throughout the second half.
It’s true what they say – the Big 12 hits a little different.
The Mustangs will regroup and head out on the road to face UCF in the Bounce House for their AAC season opener next weekend while TCU stay home and play host to Oklahoma.