Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the TCU Horned Frogs and the SMU Mustangs.
Saturday, September 23 | 11:00 a.m. | Amon G. Carter Stadium | Fort Worth, Texas
Radio: Horned Frogs Sports Network (Brian Estridge, Landry Burdine, Chris Blake)
2023 Records: TCU (2-1) | SMU (2-1)
Series History: TCU leads, 52-42-7
Last Meeting: TCU 42, SMU 34 (2022)
Spread: TCU (-6.5)
Fun Fact: TCU and SMU were both members of the Southwest Conference from the time the Horned Frogs joined the league in 1923. After the league broke up after the 1995 season, the pair were conference mates again in the WAC from 1996-2001. After that, the Horned Frogs moved to Conference USA, then Mountain West Conference, before eventually landing in the Big 12. Meanwhile, SMU went the the WAC, the C-USA, and currently resides in the American Conference, with a pending jump to the ACC in 2024.
TCU HORNED FROGS
RB EMANI BAILEY
TCU’s offense has transitioned a bit under new OC Kendall Briles, with a run-first mentality seeming to be the philosophy thus far. Emani Bailey has become the guy to know in the backfield, turning 56 carries into 357 yards (6.4 ypc) and one score on the season. Last week against Houston, Bailey had a season-high 23 carries for 126 yards and one score. Against SMU, I would expect the Horned Frogs to try and establish the run once again.
DL PAUL OYEWALE
The Horned Frogs sack leader through three games is freshman defensive lineman Paul Oyewale, who has tallied three sacks and six solo tackles through the first three contests. SMU is going to try and air it out against a TCU defense that struggled against Colorado in Week 1, and that means Preston Stone will be active. If TCU is going to limit the uber-talented sophomore, its pass rush will need to get home.
QB PRESTON STONE
Preston Stone is coming off a monster game in which he completed 15-20 attempts for 300 yards and five touchdowns, and didn’t even finish the third quarter in a 69-0 rout of Prairie View. Now, rested and ready to take on his second Big 12 defense of the nonconference slate, Stone will be a key cog in the Mustangs’ game plan. If SMU is going to win the Battle for the Iron Skillet, it’ll be because Stone led them there.
DE ELIJAH ROBERTS
SMU may not be a Power Five program yet, but their defensive line is certainly on par with teams of that level, and then some. Led by defensive end Elijah Roberts, the SMU pass rush is quite effective, and their rushing defense has been impressive as well. Roberts leads SMU with three sacks on the season, while the Mustangs have already tallied 11 sacks total in three games.
Can Chandler Morris make plays with his arm if SMU is able to stymie the Horned Frogs’ running game? The Mustangs rank 38th nationally, allowing just 103.7 rushing yards per game, and if not for 189 yards on the ground from Oklahoma, they’d likely be near the top nationally, with just 28 yards and 94 yards allowed in each of their other two games. Morris has already thrown three interceptions this season, and turnovers are a killer in rivalry games. Keeping the ball out of harm’s way will be key in this one for Morris and Co.
How much success will SMU have against the TCU secondary? If you go back two weeks and watch what Colorado did to the Horned Frogs, I’d expect the Mustangs to try and get their running backs out in space in the perimeter passing game and make TCU try and stop them. This isn’t your brother’s SMU team. No, this is a team that should win 10+ games this season if they can stay healthy, and my confidence in that prediction rests on the Mustangs offense under Preston Stone. With a true dual-threat quarterback and plenty of Power Five talent around him, this will be a big test for the TCU defense.
PREDICTION: SMU 38, TCU 31
In a high-scoring affair, I’m going to say that Rhett Lashlee and SMU get the better of former Mustangs’ head coach Sonny Dykes the second time around. I view this game as a virtual toss-up, but I have a little more belief in SMU’s defense than I do in TCU’s at this point, and I think they’ll get one more stop than the Horned Frogs do. This should be a fun and explosive game, with two great offensive minds going toe-to-toe, but unfortunately, TCU falls short of keeping the Iron Skillet in Fort Worth.