While both teams were victorious last week neither was overly impressive in their wins. TCU opened its Big 12 slate with a 41-20 victory over Iowa State while SMU chalked up its second win of the season by beating FCS member Liberty 29-14.
This rivalry will be the last non-conference game for both schools. Can SMU win back the Iron Skillet trophy, which hasn’t resided in Dallas since 2011 or will TCU retain it for a fifth consecutive season?
TCU at SMU
Kickoff: Friday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: TCU -21
Three Things to Watch
1. SMU’s Justin Lawler
The Mustangs’ junior defensive end is currently fourth in the FBS in sacks at 4.5. TCU’s Kenny Hill will have to contend with Lawler’s pressure if he wants to be successful through the air. Expect Hill to leave the pocket early and often in passing situations as not many offensive tackles have been able to contain Lawler yet this season.
TCU has rushed 106 times compared to 143 passing attempts. If Lawler cannot be contained you may see the Horned Frogs stay to the ground more this game.
2. SMU must contain TCU’s rushing attack
Hill is averaging 345 passing yards and an additional 55 rushing yards per game thus far, while TCU running back Kyle Hicks is averaging almost six yards per carry.
SMU yielded 275 rushing yards against Baylor. While Lawler will get his chances at Hill and Hicks in the backfield he can only come from one side. Hill has the speed to avoid pressure as he showed against Arkansas and Hicks does not go down easily.
SMU may be better served to force TCU to throw the ball air if the Mustangs want to stay in the game.
3. Can SMU take advantage of TCU’s defense?
SMU has shown it can move the ball. The Mustangs put up close to 600 yards of offense against North Texas. While the Mean Green is nowhere near the caliber of TCU, the Horned Frogs have not been the stingiest of defenses to this point.
TCU has given up 34 points and 406.3 yards per game this season. SMU head coach Chad Morris is known for being an offensive mind and he will find ways to get the Mustangs into the end zone against the Horned Frogs’ defense. But can SMU’s defense do its part against TCU’s offense, which is fourth in the FBS in yards (571.7) and 11th in points (46.0) per game?
Despite its shortcomings defensively TCU has a potent offense. The Horned Frogs are averaging close to 50 points per game, while SMU is putting up about half of that total (25.3 ppg). The Mustangs will probably reach their season average for scoring at minimum in this game against a susceptible TCU defense, but the same can be said for the Horned Frogs’ offense.
Prediction: TCU 45, SMU 24
— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.