TCU coach Gary Patterson needed only five words to sum up his team’s performance on Saturday.
“We got our butts kicked,” Patterson said.
Not many would argue that after SMU maintained possession of the Iron Skillet with a 42-34 victory over TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The Mustangs impressed in the 100th meeting between the two schools, finishing with 595 yards of total offense, including 350 yards rushing. SMU’s Ulysses Bentley IV had a game-high 153 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries, while quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for four touchdowns.
TCU, meanwhile, paled in comparison on the stat sheet. The Frogs’ defense had no sacks. Leading receiver Quentin Johnston finished with no catches. And the list goes on.
“I thought SMU wanted it more,” Patterson said. “I told them, when somebody hates you, you have to change your frame of mind. They hate us. It’s simple.”
Added TCU QB Max Duggan: “It sucks. SMU played good and they deserved to win. We give them credit.”
TCU and SMU were in a shootout early on with the teams scoring touchdowns on the first four drives. It was a 21-21 game at halftime with momentum seemingly on TCU’s side.
The Mustangs went for a touchdown, instead of settling for a field goal, on the final play of the first half. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 3, Mordecai threw up a pass that fell into the hands of TCU safety Deshawn McCuin.
Patterson then switched shirts, going from a black to a purple polo. Hey, it brought TCU good luck in the 2015 Alamo Bowl when they overcame a 31-0 halftime deficit to defeat Oregon.
And TCU had the ball to start the second half. None of that mattered, though.
TCU started from its own 9 after a holding penalty on the kickoff. Then Duggan fumbled it away on a strip-sack by SMU linebacker Turner Coxe with the Mustangs taking over on the TCU 3.
SMU scored two plays later on a 1-yard TD run by Bentley to take a 28-21 lead and didn’t trail after that.
That turnover proved to be among the most pivotal plays in the game.
“Obviously the most important plays of a ball game are going into half and coming out of half,” Duggan said. “For us to have the ball like that and give it away is really disappointing. That’s on me and unacceptable on my part.”
TCU settled for a field goal on its next possession before SMU gained a two-possession 35-24 lead midway through the third quarter. The Mustangs scored on an 11-yard pass from Mordecai to Rashee Rice, the receiver from Richland High who trash-talked Fort Worth and TCU earlier in the week.
After TCU pulled to within 35-27 with another field goal, SMU again answered with a touchdown. This time, Mordecai found Jordan Kerley for a 26-yard TD. Kerley is the cousin of former TCU great Jeremy Kerley.
TCU pulled to within one score on a 20-yard TD pass from Duggan to Taye Barber with four minutes left. But the Frogs never had a chance to tie it.
SMU had rushes of 13-, 11- and 12-yards on its final possession to run out the clock.
“I called the last play, I told them the QB was going to run,” Patterson said. “The guy blocked down on the guy who had the quarterback. He came off and made the play.
“At the end of the day, if I tell you exactly what they’re going to do and you still don’t stop it? I don’t know what else to tell you guys. They’d been running stretch out of two backs and I said on this final play the quarterback is going to keep it. The quarterback kept it.”
And SMU gets to keep the Iron Skillet for another year. Afterward, SMU players tried to plant the school’s flag at midfield, which led to a few heated exchanges between players.
Patterson said he understood the emotions of his players afterward but said, “You still don’t fight.
“Here’s the thing, I didn’t talk. I saw coach [Dykes] fry frog legs in the skillet when we couldn’t play them last year. I’ve been here 24 years. There’s one way that you handle things — you have class doing that. I’m not going to call people out and tell them they’re scared. I’m not doing all of that stuff. There’s a way to win and there’s a way to lose. … This is the first time I’ve lost back to back to SMU since we’ve been here. The bottom line is we need to change that.”
TCU still leads the all-time series against SMU 51-42-7. The Frogs open Big 12 play against Texas next Saturday in Fort Worth.
Get the Horned Frogs Extra newsletter
Get the latest news regarding TCU athletics in your inbox every Thursday morning.