For the 11th time in 12 years, the TCU football team is headed back to Fort Worth with the Iron Skillet as they defeated SMU 42-12 Friday night.
The 99th matchup between the two Texas schools was postponed almost two hours due to a rain delay.
Once the game began, the Mustangs came out firing early in the first quarter. SMU scored on their first drive with ease, needing only 1:50 before a 51-yard touchdown run by Braeden West put the Horned Frogs down 7-0.
“I thought we came out awfully flat,” Head Coach Gary Patterson said. “We didn’t tackle very well early.”
The rain was clearly a factor early for the Horned Frog’s offense. Quarterback Shawn Robinson looked off on their first two drives, completing only one of six pass attempts.
After the Horned Frogs were stopped on third down for the second straight drive, the snap slipped through the hands of TCU punter Adam Nunez, leading to a Mustang safety and a nine-point SMU lead.
While the Horned Frog’s offense remained quiet through the end of the first quarter, TCU safety Ridwan Isshaku was making his presence known. His five tackles were a game-high going into the second quarter.
TCU wide receiver KaVontae Turpin finally put the Frogs on the board with his trademark explosiveness. His 78-yard punt return touchdown with 12:34 remaining in the half was TCU’s longest play of the season so far. The return was Turpin’s fifth career special teams touchdown, a new school record.
“That’s a guy you want to have on your team,” wide receiver Jaelen Austin said. “Turpin can change the momentum and spark the team at any moment. When the ball’s in his hands he makes plays.”
The Horned Frogs scored again just minutes later in a very unlikely fashion. TCU running back Sewo Olonilua exploded on a powerful run into Mustang territory, but a well-placed tackle by the SMU defense forced a fumble. Fortunately for the Frogs, Austin recovered the fumble in the end zone to save the play.
Similar to their 2017 matchup with SMU, in which they also trailed early, TCU headed into the locker room with a slim 14-12 lead at halftime. The Frogs had out-gained the Mustangs by 64 yards in the second quarter. Due to the wet conditions, most of TCU’s first-half offense came from the run game, as Robinson had only accounted for 69 yards in the air.
Robinson still looked rusty to start the second half, throwing his first interception of the season just 1:10 into the third quarter.
However just two plays later, TCU defensive end Ben Banogu forced a fumble that was recovered by middle linebacker Alec Dunham and taken all the way to the house for a Horned Frogs score. This was the second non-offensive touchdown of the game for TCU.
Dunham finished the game with five total tackles and 0.5 sacks in the game for the Frogs.
Despite his struggles through the air, Robinson was able to use his legs to impact the game. His 18-yard touchdown run with 7:28 left in the third quarter extended TCU’s lead to 28-12.
“There are definitely certain times when I have to run,” Robinson said. “There are other times when I have to throw. It’s kind of an in-between thing. It’ll probably come more with experience.”
Both team’s offenses were stagnant through the end of the third quarter as the score remained the same. The Horned Frogs had held the Mustangs to only one completion and five yards of total offense in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, KaVontae Turpin caught a slant from Shawn Robinson and turned on the jets, taking it 42 yards for another TCU touchdown.
Turpin led the Frogs with four receptions for 64 yards and one receiving touchdown.
Backup quarterback Michael Collins entered the game at quarterback for TCU after Turpin’s score and on just his second snap of the game ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown to make the score 42-12. This was his first rushing touchdown of the season.
The Frogs remained in control for the rest of the game, as neither team scored again. The Frogs held the Mustangs to only 75 yards in the second half versus their 167 yards in the first half.
Though the Frogs were able to dominate their rivals in the Battle for the Iron Skillet, their next opponent is one of a much higher caliber, and Patterson knows that.
“We understand that the next ballgame—Ohio State—is not SMU,” Patterson said. “You got to get ready to play.”
The Frogs will play the No. 4 Buckeyes in next week’s Advocare Showdown at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.