DALLAS — Other than getting a victory, TCU coach Gary Patterson was far from satisfied because of what he perceived as a lack of emotion from his Horned Frogs in their Big 12 opener.
Now they play their final non-conference game against former SWC rival SMU in the game known as the Battle for the Iron Skillet. And the Frogs’ first road game this season comes on a short week, with kickoff Friday night.
“We understand how this game plays out. Every year, it’s been a war,” Patterson said this week. “So you better get ready to play in this ballgame.”
TCU (2-1) has won 14 of the last 16 games in the Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry, but the Mustangs are 2-1 for the first time since 2011 — the last time they beat the Frogs.
While SMU lost 40-13 two weeks ago at Baylor after being tied 6-all at the half, second-year coach Chad Morris believes their bounce-back victory against FCS team Liberty at home last week was significant even with some struggles in that game.
“It was huge for this football team, considering we played an FBS team last year in James Madison and lost that one on the last play of the game,” Morris said. “As we build this program and change the culture, that was a big win for this program moving forward.”
The Frogs suffered a big blow in their 41-20 win over Iowa State last Saturday when receiver/big-play returner KaVontae Turpin, who through two games was the national leader with 236 all-purpose yards per game, suffered a serious knee injury. He will be out indefinitely.
Patterson said it is difficult to lose “a guy that always makes the first guy miss,” but said the Frogs can’t worry about injuries. Defensive end Josh Carraway also left that game with an injury, but should play against the Mustangs.
“If you want to be a great program, not everything is going to go right,” Patterson said. “How people handle the tough times and the things when you have problems, that’s how you usually judge everybody. So we’ve got to handle it.”
Some other things to know when TCU plays SMU, one of the remaining candidates for possible Big 12 expansion:
RED ZONE ISSUES
While the Mustangs are moving the ball, averaging 491 total yards per game, they have struggled once reaching the opponents 20. They have reached the red zone 16 times, and have only two touchdowns in that span (including a 20-yard touchdown pass against Baylor). But there are also five interceptions inside the 20 along with nine field goal attempts (seven made, two missed).
TCU has at least one sack in 33 consecutive games, which is a school record and the second-longest active streak nationally behind Ohio State’s 38. The Horned Frogs have 10 sacks this season, spread out over seven different players. TCU also has the Big 12’s top two tacklers overall, in linebackers Ty Summers (26) and Sammy Douglas (25).
LOT OF PICKS
SMU’s defense has already had nine interceptions this season, matching Cincinnati and Ohio State for the FBS lead. That matches their 2015 season total. “We’re creating turnovers,” Morris said. “That’s one of the biggest strengths that we have — interceptions.” TCU has 73 interceptions since 2012, its first year in the Big 12, which is the most in the league during that span.
HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS
SMU will wear specially created Mustang helmet decals that feature the Dallas skyline to show its support for Dallas area first-responders . Dallas Police Chief David Brown is scheduled to take part in the pregame coin toss. There will also be a moment of silence to remember five law enforcement officers killed July 7 in downtown Dallas by a gunman at the end of a march to protest fatal police shootings of black men. SMU’s campus is only blocks from the downtown area.