By: Nicholas Gilanfar
The Week 4 matchup between TCU and SMU is known as the battle of the iron skillet representing the cross-town rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth marking the 102nd meeting between the two programs.
Like the Week 2 defeat vs. the Oklahoma Sooners, the Mustangs started strong but then squandered late-game opportunities and lost the game 34-17.
TCU Head Coach Sonny Dykes is in his second year as the head coach fueling the Horned Frogs to the NCAA Championship in his first year with the program. Prior to Dyke’s TCU tenure, he served as SMU’s head coach from 2018-2021 and coached against his former school for the second time. Through the last 22 matchups between the two schools, TCU has gone 18-4. The meeting between the two programs held a lot of significance to SMU as this was the last Power Five school they would face until entering the ACC in 2024.
After a dominant 69-0 win against Prairie View, SMU will be welcoming back RB Jaylan Knighton after serving his suspension due to ineligibility. The running back room will still take a hit as RB LJ Johnson Jr. was listed out with an ankle injury. Despite Knighton’s return from eligibility and LJ Johnson’s injury, Kamar Wheaton took most of the rushing reps in Week 4.
SMU started the game with the ball as their first drive was highlighted by a lengthy 14 plays. For the first half of the drive Lashlee was dependent on the run game and getting Camar Wheaton warmed up as he converted two first downs in this drive. The SMU offense was rolling down the field with the efforts of QB Preston Stone finding his offense all the way to the 25-yard line. Although they had high offensive production, they were forced to kick a 24-yard field goal as K Collin Rogers nailed it and SMU was the first to get on the board and led 3-0.
After tallying the first points on the board, SMU had all the momentum going in their favor as they produced a quality defensive drive and forced TCU to punt. However, with the aspirations of the Mustangs to add to their lead, they were held by a strong TCU defense and were forced to punt via the three and out as TCU HC Sonny Dykes was not letting up on SMU.
As TCU closed the quarter with the potential last drive, QB Chandler Morris was firing on all cylinders as Dykes was aggressive and played high tempo. Due to Dyke’s tactics SMU was already out of timeouts for the half by the end of the first quarter as it was obvious, Rhett Lashlee was being outcoached. TCU took advantage of the drive and scored a touchdown, giving them a 7-3 lead.
SMU regains possession as the drive is kicked off with an SMU penalty setting the team back to first and 15, not having many answers for the TCU defense. Following the penalty, luckily Knighton rushes up the middle for a gain of 18 yards setting the offense up in good standings. SMU ended up sticking with the run game throughout the drive as Wheaton and Knighton started to split reps. Being in a good field position, SMU decided to go for it on fourth and two as they were unable to convert the first down and were forced to a turnover on downs.
When TCU got the ball back, everything was going in their favor as they had all the momentum back and did not miss a beat for the second quarter’s front half. The drive starts off with Chandler Morris airing the ball out to WR JP Richardson for 38 yards. After the huge gain, TCU started to stall out with the SMU defense holding TCU to fourth and two. Dykes decides to remain aggressive and for the fourth down conversion as Morris was able to find WR Major Everheart for the first down. Taking the ball all the way to First and Goal, TCU ends the drive was a Chandler Morris touchdown to TE Jared Wiley as TCU extended their lead to 14-3.
Through the game so far, SMU got their run game going but was unable to get QB Preston Stone going right away. Because of the lack of production in the passing game, this drive featured the SMU ground attack. SMU would then score a touchdown in the winding seconds of the half as RB Kamar Wheaton punched it in ending the half inching closer to TCU still trailing 14-10.
With chances still looming for SMU to come back and win this game, TCU began to take advantage of everything they had going for them. The second half went very differently for both schools as they both had three offensive drives.
TCU scored on all three drives with two field goals and a 24-yard rushing touchdown from RB Amari Bailey, while SMU turned the ball over in each of their drives as TCU’s lead grew to 27-10.
The third quarter was highlighted by a lack of answers on the defensive end while TCU’s run game exploded for over 100 yards in the quarter. As for SMU’s offense, they were forced to punt, had a turnover on downs as well as an interception, and were also unable to get anything done as all momentum was shot.
With TCU leading the game 27-10, they were still aggressive until the final whistle. In the first drive in the quarter, TCU was forced a three and out and went for it on fourth and goal on the three-yard line but was unable to convert it. That was not the only time this quarter that they went for it on fourth down as their next possession was also highlighted by a turnover on downs as TCU was looking to run up the score at this point of the game.
For the last two drives of the game, both teams ended their final drives with a touchdown apiece while both teams went full throttle till the final whistle as the 102nd meeting of the Iron Skillet rivalry ended in a 34-17 defeat in favor of the TCU Horned Frogs. With the loss, SMU drops to 2-2 and will begin conference play next week where they will host Charlotte.
QB Preston Stone: 16/35, 258 yards, two interceptions
RB Camar Wheaton: 16 ATT, 73 yards, one touchdown
WR Jordan Kerley: one reception, 51 yards
WR Jordan Hudson: three receptions, 50 yards
S Isaiah Nwokobia: eight tackles, one sack, one TFL
LB Kobe Wilson: eight tackles, one TFL
Featured Image via AP Photo/LM Otero