The Iron Skillet will be on the line again Saturday as the Frogs travel to Dallas to take on the SMU Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
The Frogs are 3-0 entering the showdown after last week’s rainy win over the Stanford Cardinal, and bring the nation’s second-ranked defense against June Jones’ spread passing attack. SMU (1-2) is led by freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who has thrown for 769 yards and eight touchdowns, completing almost 60 percent of his passes. Getting open for Mitchell will be standout receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has caught four touchdowns already this season and averages 128 yards per game.
“June Jones has done a great job so far at SMU, and he will continue to make that team better,” head coach Gary Patterson said at Tuesday’s media conference. “They are throwing the ball around to a excellent set of skilled players, and their young offensive linemen have done a good job.
TCU counters with sophomore signal caller Andy Dalton, who has done most of his damage on the ground this season. Quarterbacking the nation’s 13th ranked rushing offense, Dalton has rushed for 163 yards and four touchdowns this season and thrown for 396 yards with a 63.5 percent completion rate. Sophomore Ryan Christian leads the Frogs in rushing with 189 yards, averaging 4.6 per carry for the nation’s leader in time of possession at more than 37 minutes per game.
“I’m not so sure TCU isn’t the best team we’ve played so far, or going to play,” Jones said at his weekly press conference. “I already know how TCU feels about SMU. So they’ll come and play their best game, and it will take our best game to beat them.”
Defense has been a problem area for the Mustangs this season, who rank 117 out of 119 Division I teams. By contrast, the Frogs have 17 defensive points allowed this season and lead the nation in turnover margin.
Despite the Frogs’ advantage on paper, Patterson isn’t taking the rivalry game lightly.
“This is a pride game for us,” Patterson said. “Anytime you play a team in the state of Texas, it has a bearing on recruiting. It will be a high-emotion game. We have our hands full. Anytime we are in Dallas, you can throw the records out.”