Every year, TCU coach Gary Patterson has to get his team fired up to play SMU.
Overall, TCU has been way better than SMU under Patterson’s watch. But SMU gets up for the annual game between the neighboring schools and can give the Horned Frogs fits.
“I get more nervous for the SMU game every year than I do about every other ballgame we play,” Patterson said. “They’re more ready to play against us than most people.”
For TCU, playing SMU was nerve racking on Saturday, at least during the first half. The Mustangs scored first on a 58-yard pass. The Mustangs led 19-7 early in the second quarter. TCU led by only six points at the end of the first half.
But during the second half, No. 20 TCU took control of the game and defeated SMU, 56-36, before an announced crowd of 44,489 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
TCU improved to 3-0. SMU fell to 2-1.
Four of the TCU’s eight touchdowns came from passes from senior quarterback Kenny Hill to four different receivers. Two of them were produced by sophomore running back Darius Anderson. The Horned Frog’s first TD came on a running play from freshman running back Kenedy Snell. The last one was from a 19-yard interception return from senior linebacker Travin Howard.
Their performances helped TCU defeat SMU for the sixth straight season and 10th time in 11 years.
SMU scored first when quarterback Ben Hicks hit Trey Quinn with a 58-yard pass with only 2:12 minutes into the game. However, the Mustangs PAT kick attempt failed leaving the Mustangs with a 6-0 lead.
TCU immediately responded with a 5-play, 89-yard scoring drive. Snell scored on a 10-yard run to the far right side of the field with 11:00 remaining in the first quarter. Jonathan Song converted the PAT kick to give the Horned Frogs a 7-6 lead.
SMU came roaring back with a 6-play, 77-yard scoring drive. Ke’Mon Freeman scored on a one yard run and the Mustangs took a 13-7 lead with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter.
SMU scored again after recovering a TCU fumble. KaVontae Turpin fumbled and SMU’s Anthony Rhone recovered and ran it for 54 yards to the TCU 12. Four plays later, SMU’s Josh Williams kicked a 29-yard field goal with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter to give the Mustangs a 16-7 lead.
SMU recovered another fumble, this time on a high snap as TCU was attempting a long field goal late in the first quarter. SMU’s Kyran Mitchell recovered the fumble to give the Mustangs possession at the SMU 40. SMU ended a 12-play scoring drive with Williams’ 34-yard field goal to give the Mustangs a 19-7 lead with 12:10 remaining in the second quarter.
TCU responded with a 13-play 75-yard drive that was capped by Hill’s 13-yard pass to Shaun Nixon. The Horned Frogs cut SMU’s lead to 5 (19-14) with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter.
TCU scored on its next possession, this time at the end of a 6-play, 97-yard drive. Snell scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Hill to give the Horned Frogs a 21-19 lead with 2:40 remaining in the first half.
However, the Mustangs took a 22-21 lead as Williams kicked a 21-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the first half. But TCU regained the lead when Hill hit Jalon Reagor with a 38-yard TD pass as time ran out in the second quarter.
The Horned Frogs led 28-22 at the half.
TCU scored on the opening possession of the second half. On third and goal from the four, Anderson ran it in, capping a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive. The Horned Frogs led 35-22 with 10:32 remaining in the third quarter.
SMU responded late in the third quarter with a 7-play, 69-yard scoring march that was capped by a Ke’Mon Freeman 34-yard touchdown run. At that point, the Horned Frogs’ lead was cut to six, 35-29, with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter.
But TCU didn’t allow SMU to hang around any longer. Anderson scored on a 38-yard touchdown run, capping a 6-play, 60 yard scoring drive. The Horned Frogs had a 42-29 lead with 13:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Horned Frogs scored again on their next possession, this time on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Turpin. TCU lead 49-29 with 8:35 remaining in the game.
TCU scored again when Howard intercepted Hicks at the 19 and ran it in for a touchdown. The Horned Frogs led 56-29 with 7:43 remaining in the game.
But SMU still had a little fight left. Hicks hit James Proche with a 61-yard touchdown pass to make the score, 56-36, with 6:50 left to play.
TCU led in total offense over SMU, 619 to 463 yards. TCU also outrushed SMU, 254 yards (on 49 attempts) to 124 yards (on 30 attempts).
The two teams were closer in the passing category. But the Horned Frogs outperformed the Mustangs, 365 to 339.
TCU and SMU began playing each other 102 years ago and have become archrivals. An annual award is given to the winner to the game between the two schools called “The Iron Skillet.” The winning school receives a trophy that’s literally an iron skillet with a plaque in the middle of the pan that states the two schools began playing each other in 1915.
TCU faces Oklahoma State next weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2:30 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla. It is expected to be a big test for the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma State routed Pittsburgh 59-21during a road game on Saturday.
TCU team notes
* TCU improved to 3-0 for the ninth time in 17 seasons under head coach Gary Patterson. Its 32-10 overall record over the last four years is second-best among Big 12 programs.
* TCU’s 619 yards of total offense were its most since posting 688 in a 62-22 win at Baylor last season.
* After trailing 19-7 2:50 into the second quarter, TCU outscored SMU 49-17 the remainder of the contest.
* A 10-yard scoring run by Kenedy Snell gave TCU a touchdown on its opening drive for the third straight game.
* The Horned Frogs scored a first-quarter touchdown for the 36th time in their last 42 games.
* TCU led 28-22 at halftime and is now 122-14 when ahead at the half under Patterson.
* TCU had 254 rushing yards and is now 85-5 under Patterson when running for at least 200 yards.
* The Horned Frogs had an interception return for a touchdown for the second time this season as Travin Howard returned a pick 19 yards. Ridwan Issahaku had a 53-yard pick-six versus Jackson State.
* TCU has three defensive touchdowns this season and a total of 33 nonoffensive scores, including 20 interception returns for touchdowns, since 2010.
* TCU scored for the 309th consecutive game. It’s the nation’s second-longest current streak and fourth all-time in NCAA history. The Horned Frogs haven’t been blanked since Nov. 16, 1991 at Texas (32-0).
* A Ross Blacklock block of an SMU field goal gave TCU its second blocked field goal in its last four games.
TCU individual notes
* Kyle Hicks’ 41-yard carry on TCU’s opening snap of the game was the Horned Frogs’ longest run from scrimmage this season, bettering by 1 yard a 40-yard gain by Shawn Robinson.
* Hicks and John Diarse both had a reception to extend their team-best streaks to 17 consecutive games with a catch.
* Kenedy Snell’s 71-yard touchdown catch from Kenny Hill was TCU’s longest play from scrimmage since a 74-yard scoring toss from Hill to Taj Williams last season versus Oklahoma.
* Jalen Reagor’s 38-yard touchdown reception from Hill on the final play of the first half was the first touchdown reception of his career. Reagor finished with three catches for 79 yards.
* KaVontae Turpin’s 88 yards receiving, on seven receptions with a 27-yard touchdown catch, give him 1,062 in his career.
* Turpin’s seven receptions tied a career-high, set on three previous occasions.
* Hill completed 24-of-30 passes for four touchdowns and 365 yards, marking his fifth 300-yard game in 16 contests at TCU.
* Hill had four TD passes for the second time in three games this season and third time in his TCU career. His career-high five scoring tosses came last year versus Oklahoma.
* Shaun Nixon’s 11-yard touchdown reception from Hill was his second career scoring grab and first since Nov. 14, 2015 versus Kansas. Nixon missed last season due to injury.
* Darius Anderson had scoring runs of 4 and 48 yards to give him a team-best three rushing touchdowns on the season and four in his career.
* Anderson’s 89 yards led TCU in rushing for the third straight game.
* Sewo Olonilua’s 63 yards rushing on nine carries were a career high.
* Wide receiver Dylan Thomas made his first career start.
* Travin Howard had a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown on his third career pick.
* Ben Banogu had two tackles for loss. He has at least one stop behind the line of scrimmage in all three games.
* Ross Blacklock blocked a third-quarter SMU field-goal attempt, TCU’s first block of a field goal since L.J. Collier in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl versus Georgia.
SMU: After its only non-conference road game, the Mustangs return home to play Arkansas State in their last game before AAC play.
TCU: The Horned Frogs open their Big 12 schedule at No. 9 Oklahoma State (3-0) next Saturday.