Big 12 Previews

TCU vs. SMU: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming matchup between the SMU Mustangs and the TCU Horned Frogs.

GAME INFO

Saturday, September 24, 2022; 11 a.m. CT; Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas

TV: ESPNU (John Schriffen, Rene Ingoglia)

Radio: TCU: WBAP 820 AM, Sirius XM 99, SXM App 968.

Records: TCU, 2-0; SMU, 2-1.

Rankings: TCU: Not ranked; SMU: Not ranked.

Series History: TCU leads 51-42-7.

Last Meeting: SMU 42, TCU 34,, Sept. 25, 2021.

Favorite: Even

Fun Fact: You’ve probably heard this before, but the Mustangs and the Horned Frogs play for the right to keep the game’s famed ‘iron skillet’ for a year. Hence, it’s called the ‘iron skillet’ game. This will also be the first time that TCU head coach Sonny Dykes will face his former team, SMU. Dykes coached the Mustangs for four seasons (2018-21).

 

KEY PLAYERS

TCU HORNED FROGS

QB Max Duggan

No matter what seems to happen lately, all paths lead to Duggan. When Chandler Morris — who ousted Duggan from the starting job to start the season — sprained his knee, the Horned Frogs defaulted back to Duggan. All he’s done since then is go 25-of-32 passing for 417 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Now, the vast majority of that came in a career-high performance against Tarleton two weeks ago, which has given Morris time to recover. But there’s no indication Dykes will make a change. Plus, Duggan needs just 24 passing yards to move up to fourth on TCU’s all-time passing yards list.

DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson

He can play corner and he can play safety — and he can play both well. He was Pro Football Focus’s third-highest graded returning Big 12 cornerback in press coverage last season. Now he’s out to not only get the Horned Frogs back to a bowl game but improve his NFL Draft stock so he can follow in his uncle LaDainian’s footsteps. We’re only two games in but he has four tackles and a pass break-up. SMU offers him a chance to improve on that.

 

SMU MUSTANGS

QB Tanner Mordecai

Dykes may be at TCU, but the ultra-productive former Oklahoma recruit that stepped into the Mustangs’ air raid system is still there and still producing. In three games he has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, tossed 10 touchdowns against three interceptions and thrown for 1,013 yards, which is 337.7 yards per game. The Horned Frogs will have to slow him down.

LB Isaac Slade-Matautia

The Mustangs’ leading tackler is a native of Hawaii and an Oregon transfer who is on the Butkus Award Watch List, the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List and the East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 List. He has 22 tackles and one quarterback hurry in three games and he’s player TCU will have to track all day.

 

KEY STORYLINES

TCU HORNED FROGS

It’s hard to tell where TCU is right now, despite a 2-0 record. The road win over Colorado was a quality win in the sense of beating another Power 5 team. But it’s becoming clear the Horned Frogs beat a program that is teetering into complete disarray. The win over Tarleton was your garden-variety FBS/FCS pounding, as the Texans are still transitioning to full-blown Division I status. If you watch TCU you can see the talent and you can see the systems that Dykes and his staff have installed agree with the talent. SMU, you could argue, is a better team than Colorado, and the Horned Frogs should start getting a better sense of who they are this weekend.

SMU MUSTANGS

The Mustangs went the young head coach route when they tapped Rhett Lashlee to take over for Dykes once he was out the door to Fort Worth. It may have been a prescient hire. He worked for UCF’s Gus Malzahn from the pair’s days at Springdale High School in Arkansas until 2017, when Lashlee ventured out on his own. He worked as Dykes’ offensive coordinator for two years, took the same job at Miami (FL) for two seasons and then returned to SMU. He knows the system, he knows most of the personnel and that shows.

PREDICTION: SMU 36, TCU 33

What’s the one thing you don’t want to do when you take a new head-coaching job? Face your old team the first year. Well, Dykes knew the risks when he took the job at TCU. This is always an amped-up game. Turn it up to 11, Spinal Tap fans, and watch SMU get the better of TCU at home.

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