There were plenty of positives for the Mustangs to hang their hats on, including the running of Zach Line, the toughness of Kyle Padron, the coverage skills of Sterling Moore and Ryan Smith, and the hands of Aldrick Robinson and Darius Johnson.
SMU (2-2) got on the board first with 6:47 remaining in the first stanza. The Mustangs, boosted by Line's (17-139, 8.2 ypc, one TD) hard-nosed efforts between the tackles, put together an impressive 88-yard drive, which culminated on a 23-yard TD pass from Padron to Robinson.
Line, who continues to shine each week, appears faster with each successive game. He dug SMU out of a hole - in terms of poor field position - with consecutive first down carries to jump start the lengthy drive. With those two carries, Line more than doubled SMU's rushing output from the entire 2009 TCU game.
On TCU's ensuing possession, the Mustangs came up big on defense, forcing QB Andy Dalton and the potent Horned Frogs offense to go three-and-out. Unfortunately, the Mustangs were unable to capitalize on great field position (starting at the SMU 43) on their next set of downs.
As the first quarter came to a close, the unbeaten Frogs (4-0) tied the game at 7-apiece on a two-yard plunge up the middle by Matthew Tucker.
After TCU moved ahead, 14-7, by virtue of a Waymon James four-yard run, SMU cut the margin to four points with a 26-yard Matt Szymanski field goal.
Prior to the field goal, the Mustangs thwarted a TCU drive, with defensive back Ryan Smith picking off Dalton (14-of-26, 174 yards, one TD, two INT) in the red zone.
Padron, whose toughness can never be challenged, scrambled for a first down on the drive that led to Szymanski's three-pointer. The Frogs were able to tee off on Padron quite a few times during the game with jarring hits, but the SMU signal-caller bounced back off the carpet on every occasion and showed no hesitation at any juncture.
A streaking 50-yard grab by Johnson was the instrumental play on the aforementioned drive. Johnson was the leading receiver on the night for SMU, catching five passes for 72 yards. Robinson hauled in five catches for 61 yards.
In the first half, SMU outgained TCU, 209-to-183.
In the second half, SMU surged ahead to take the lead, 17-14, with Sterling Moore setting up the score by intercepting Dalton on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Moore swiped the pass at TCU's 33-yard line and returned it to the one. On the next play, Padron connected on a play-action pass to Bradley Haynes at the 13:58 mark of the third.
The momentum continued to seesaw, however, as Jeremy Kerley returned the kickoff 83 yards to the SMU 13. From there, Dalton found Bart Johnson in the middle of the field from 11 yards out as the Frogs regained the lead for good.
Early in the fourth quarter, a 29-yard scoring jaunt by Line reduced the TCU lead to 35-24, but the Frogs were able to score again four minutes later on an interception return.