Dueling Columns: Battle for the Iron Skillet

Frogs will make a statement with win over SMU

The 2009 edition of the Battle for the Iron Skillet should be different than in the past couple of years. SMU is playing its best football under head coach June Jones and his spread offense. The TCU defensive secondary is still the weakest link in the Frogs’ game plan, so don’t be surprised when the Ponies put points up on the board. But that won’t have Mustang faithful singing the “Pony Battle Cry” in celebration all the way back east.

The Frogs have the 2005 loss in the front of their minds and will come out with more of a purpose in this game then they have in past years. If there were such a thing as a non-top 25 statement game, this would be the Frogs’.

SMU has allowed their opponents an average of 4.2 yards per carry so far this season. If TCU’s halfback rotation can just match the average, they will score every drive. SMU has not seen a rush defense anywhere close to TCU’s and after trying to catch Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, anything SMU throws at the Frogs will be handled with ease.

The biggest question mark is TCU’s defensive secondary. They allowed FCS opponent Texas State to stay in the game way too long, allowing 219 yards through the air. The secondary seemed to have things a little more under control last week, but it’s hard to tell if they’ve made permanent adjustments because of the sloppy conditions in Clemson. Going into conference, this will be the game during which the secondary gets its act together and makes a statement, shutting down the Mustangs’ spread.

The game will be close through the first half, but the Frogs will win the toss and defer to the second half. They will take control of the game in the third, where the Ponies have been outscored 39-7, and the Frogs will never look back, sending Peruna back east with its tail between its legs, sans its favorite cooking utensil. The Best Dressed Band in the Land will play a melancholy rendition of “Varsity” after the Frogs beat the Mustangs by a 21-point spread.

Sports editor Travis L. Brown is a news/editorial journalism major from Dallas.

Winning could put more faith into an improving SMU program

The odds of a colossal upset occurring in Fort Worth on Saturday are slim. The Horned Frogs may even be looking forward to their next game against Air Force given the nature of TCU’s win last season in Ford Stadium.

Who would blame them given the past?

After all, the Horned Frogs remain undefeated, hold a No. 11 ranking in the AP and play a team that averages 3.67 turnovers a game.

However, this game does resemble another rivalry game between the Mustangs and Horned Frogs that ruined TCU’s chances for a perfect season.

After starting the 2005 season with a huge win over Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs visited rival SMU. The Mustangs beat TCU 21-10 and were the Horned Frogs’ only loss of the season.

Maybe TCU was drained after beating Oklahoma or looking ahead to its next game against Utah. Whatever the reason, 2005 proved that an upset can happen in this cross-town rivalry.

TCU has played three straight games and has an important game against Air Force next week. The reasons for TCU to come out of the gate slow are numerous.

However, for TCU to lose, SMU will have to play a perfect game.

There is one key aspect of the game that should worry TCU fans if it starts going SMU’s way: turnovers.

The SMU defense may give up a lot of yards, but it has forced enough turnovers to be ranked second in the nation even after a bye week in turnovers forced.

However, the same applies for SMU’s offense. SMU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has thrown three interceptions in eight games. If SMU is going to pull off a massive upset, Mitchell will need to play the best game he has ever played at SMU.

If the turnovers go in favor of the Mustangs, they will still need a little luck to get a win.

The nature of a rivalry game and the Mustangs’ loss to Washington State two weeks ago after leading by three possessions almost ensure that SMU will not look emotionless or unprepared.

While I will not predict an upset this year, I am willing to predict that the game will be closer than most TCU fans expect. The main reason is the Mustangs clearly believe in themselves this year.

Unlike last year, the fans, players and coaches have hope that SMU can produce a winning season. Hope has been missing from the SMU program for the last couple of years. A win over TCU would certainly turn hope into belief and give the SMU football program a huge lift.

In this game, the Horned Frogs have everything to lose, and the Mustangs have nothing to lose. Desperate and hungry teams are dangerous. If TCU looks past this game to next week, Saturday will spell trouble for the Horned Frogs’ undefeated season.

Zack Wehner is a senior staff writer for the SMU Daily Campus.