SMU turned the ball over six times and failed to produce anything offensively as TCU took the Iron Skillet back to Fort Worth with a sloppy 24-16 victory on Saturday night.
"You have to play all phases of the game and we did not do that tonight," said SMU head coach June Jones. "We had opportunities, as ugly as the game was, we had opportunities to win the game but obviously, we didn't make the plays to do that."
SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert was responsible for most of those turnovers. The Texas transfer tossed five interceptions including one in the first quarter that was picked off by Elisha Olabode, who returned it 51 yards to the 8-yard line.
The short field allowed TCU to get on the board first when Casey Pachall hit Matthew Tucker for a 2-yard score, making it 7-0.
Gilbert went 15-of-40 for 190 yards and one touchdown, and his bad decisions proved costly.
"I felt like I had to put the ball where it needed to be," Gilbert said. "That's what's being asked, and I need to do a better job at that. I don't think the weather affected us in terms of how I could throw the ball. We just need to execute."
But Gilbert wasn't the only problem. SMU's wide receivers dropped countless amounts of balls as rain poured down on Ford Stadium.
"I would like to think it was the weather, but you have to make some plays," Jones said. "It was the same conditions for (TCU), and they made some great catches. Our receivers have to step up and make those plays."
Down 24-10 late in the fourth quarter, Gilbert made his best throw of the night when he connected with Der'rikk Thompson on 29-yard touchdown pass to cut the TCU lead to eight.
After a defensive stop, SMU got the ball back but was unable to execute the hurry up offense and Gilbert was picked off once again, this time by Jason Verrett, as time expired.
SMU did have its chances. Perhaps the most pivotal series of the game came with 11:11 to go in the fourth quarter. TCU punter Ethan Perry mishandled the snap and SMU's Austin Fuller pounced on the ball at the Horned Frog 1-yard line, setting up a golden opportunity for the Ponies.
But SMU was unable to punch it in. After Zach Line was stuffed on the first play, Gilbert threw three straight incomplete passes and the ball was turned over on downs. Most importantly, the score remained 24-10.
"I should have ran it again," Jones said. "I went into the game saying that I was going to do that. When we got stuffed, it actually looked like we lost a yard on the play. I kind of went away from what I said I was going to do."
Despite the horrendous conditions, Jones continued to call passing plays and did not give Line his fair share of carries in the second half. The senior tail back rushed for only 49 yards and a score.
"This week we worked on the run," said TCU head coach Gary Patterson. "He's hurt us badly the last two seasons. We were not going to let Zach Line hurt us tonight."
Defensively, the Mustangs stymied Pachall and the TCU offense. SMU allowed just 156 yards of total offense and forced a couple of turnovers. But time and time again, the offense failed to capitalize.
"Defensively, I was definitely happy about the performance," said linebacker Taylor Reed, who led the Mustangs with 14 tackles and a sack. "We know are offense can do it. We just went out there for four quarters against a talented team. We just knew we had to get the ball back in the offense's hands."
While the offense failed to produce, SMU's special teams gave up two big returns. The first was a 64-yard punt return by Skye Dawson, which led to a 4-yard Tucker touchdown run and gave TCU a 21-7 just before halftime.
"We found a way to get another one done," Patterson said. "If you had told me before the season that we would be 4-0, with everything, everybody we lost, then I'd probably be jumping up and down."
SMU will open conference play next Saturday when the Mustangs travel to El Paso to take on UTEP.
Recap: SMU Loses Ugly Game, Iron Skillet
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