Free Preview: SMU (2-1) at #10 TCU (3-0)

What more can be said? The "Battle for the Iron Skillet" is here! Come inside PonyStampede.com for a free preview on the game!

SMU (2-1) at #10 TCU (3-0), 7 P.M. Saturday, Radio- 570 A.M. TV- The MTN.

Series Record Against TCU: 39-42-7


SMU's June Jones: June Jones is in his second season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 3-12 and his career mark is now 79-53. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the All State Sugar Bowl in 2007. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.

TCU's Gary Patterson: is 76-27 in nine seasons as TCU's head coach. Patterson has led TCU to at least 10 wins five times in the last seven years. Patterson is 6-1 as a head coach versus SMU.


Last time out for the Mustangs: Heavy Lead Slips Away to Washington State
By George Brown

With two wins already in the books, SMU sought after their third victory in Pullman, Washington against a struggling cougar team. The game started with a heavy overcast for both in the sky and on the field for Washington State. Bo Levi Mitchell kept in control throughout the first half, completing his first ten passes and throwing a 46 yard TD pass to Terrance Wilkerson halfway through the first quarter.

Mitchell led two drives to points in the second quarter, as SMU took steady control, scoring the first 17 points of the game. Washington State's touchdown to end the first half cut the Mustangs lead to 10 as they went to the locker rooms, 17-7.

Mitchell appeared to be settled into the Jones' system. SMU was on pace to have another fifty passes for the day, and Mitchell was completing over 80% of his passes, and had yet to throw an interception.

Mitchell opened the second half with a 23 yard td pass to Wilkerson, his second of the day, giving SMU a comfortable lead at 24-7.

Washington State had hoped to establish a running game early, but the Mustangs had kept their running backs at bay. Washington State spent most of the first three quarter trying to come from behind, which forced the cougars to go against their plan, and relay on an unhealthy passing game.

The Mustangs secondary had proven to be a dominant force for the third week in a row. They had already caught two interceptions, and a desperate to score Cougar offense was only more likely to make more passing mistakes.

That was, until the end of the third quarter.

With one minute left to go in the third quarter, Mitchell threw his first interception of the game, which was run back for a touchdown. After a failed extra point attempt, SMU was hanging on to an 11 point lead.

The fourth quarter started with a Mustang field goal. But, after the Cougars stalled on the next possession, Mitchell was picked off, for the second time, for a touchdown, and Washington closed into within one score with just ten minutes left to go in the game.

Mitchell led SMU deep into cougar territory on the next drive, but was picked off for the third time. The Mustangs held Washington State to a three and out, but SMU produced a three and out as well, and Washington State was in a position to tie the game.

It appeared that SMU's secondary had forced the Cougars to turn the ball over on downs at midfield, but a pass interference call gave Washington State a first down on SMU's 34 yard line.

Two completions later gave Washington State the ball on the seven yard line with 36 seconds left in the game.

The first play at the seven was an incomplete pass, but the second play proved successful, allowing Washington State to tie the ball game with 28 seconds left, forcing the game into overtime.

SMU would get the ball first in overtime.

One play into overtime, Mitchell threw the ball deep into the end zone, which was intercepted. Washington State spent three plays moving up just three yards, but their field goal was successful, giving the cougars the first lead they have had this season as well as their first victory.

Bo Levi Mitchell passed for a career high 424 yards, but his four interceptions was the core reason for the Mustangs first loss of the season, giving him 8 on the season.

SMU was firing on all cylinders in the first half of the game, but Mitchell, once again, showed that he can run the high tech offense, but seemed inpatient with a close game. A 24-7 lead seemed to had been destroyed by a desire to quickly reverse the effects of interceptions.

Unfortunately, the running game, which has played a crucial role in both of SMU's wins, seemed to have been abandoned by June Jones.

SMU has a weekend off to reevaluate what's working and what's not before playing rival TCU, who is currently undefeated and ranked #11 in the nation.




SMU vs TCU storylines coming into the game:

• The Iron Skillet is on the line

• SMU leads the nation in interceptions with 11

• TCU has won six in a row at home over the Mustangs. SMU's last victory in Fort Worth was a 21-15 decision in 1993.

• Bo Levi Mitchell has been suffering from an Ulcer in the past weeks, but is on the road to recovery.




More about the Horned Frogs:

* Andy Dalton's 50 completions this season have been spread among 11 receivers.

* The Frogs have committed just three turnovers (1.0 per game) in their opening three contests, all victories.

* TCU is 12-0 when Joseph Turner rushes for at least 56 yards.

* The Frogs have led the nation in total defense three times inthe last nine seasons. No other school has finished first as many times as TCU in that stretch.




Coach June Jones Q&A "TCU's defense (against Clemson) didn't surprise me a bit. They're one of the best in the country, if not the best. They do a great job with their scheme – they've been at it for 10 years – and they don't change much. They just get better at what they do.

They have done a great job recruiting athletes that fit their system. Some of those defensive linemen were undersized when they recruited them, but they've grown into – lifting, working out – being what they need.

We're aware of (TCU DE Jerry Hughes). Offensively, we're kind of what they are defensively. We do what we do. Eventually we're going to have all the pieces in place, just like they do. They don't change. They just let their kids go play."

On benefit of having a bye week: Well, hopefully we got healthy. Youri (Yenga) is back running, Al (Aldrick Robinson) is still limping a little bit, but he feels better, he says, so hopefully we've got a chance to get healthy.

On SMU/TCU rivalry: I've heard about it, but I don't feel it like some of the kids that have been here yet. But going over there, you will feel it. I kind of like the story of the band with the grass seed. I thought that was pretty good.

On Bo Levi Mitchell: He's lost 21 pounds – he had that viral thing – but he was finally eating last Thursday for the first time in about two weeks. He was struggling through, but didn't miss anything. But he was able to hold food down last Thursday, so we'll give him a couple of weeks to gain it back.

On physical and performance struggles: That's ... playing the position of quarterback, you've got to deal with all that. Doesn't matter if it's mental or physical – both – that's part of the job description. Everybody's got to do it if you want to play quarterback in D-I or quarterback in the NFL. You've got to fight through all that stuff.

On TCU QB Andy Dalton: They've kind of done a couple of different things, this different than what they did last year, and we've got to prepare for all of it. You don't know what they're going to gameplan against us. But he's a solid 'what they're looking for' kind of guy. He hasn't made many mistakes. They'd like to get the ball downfield vertically – I know that – under the guise of some of the things that they do with their scheme. But they take their shots.



Coach Gary Patterson Q&A "It's a big weekend for us, playing at home against our cross-town rival. We have an opportunity to do some of the things we need to do before heading into conference play."

On how winning at Clemson last week compares to a victory at No. 5 Oklahoma in 2005, both preceding a game with SMU: The only thing that is different from 2005 is that we weren't surprised when we won. The fans and everyone around here went into a shock and, all of a sudden, we became God-like for a week and our kids practiced that way. If you listen to the way our kids talk right now, I think they understand what is in front of us.

In 2005, we went from being ranked 65th to going into the top 25 and back out of it within a week. Some of those guys that were redshirts then, like Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest, have the feeling of what that was like. I don't think we have the same kind of football team or the same mindset of what we are trying to do, but we will find out today when we get on the practice field. If Sunday's practice was any indication, they have dialed in already.

On what he learned about his team in the 14-10 win at Clemson: The Clemson game gave us a lot of confidence, especially defensively. If you look at the rain, the fact they have a great record when playing at home, the environment and also the kinds of players they have, it can be intimidating. I've very proud with the way our kids kept fighting. They had an opportunity to quit when Clemson scored right before the half, but they came back and made stops at the end of the game. That is something we didn't do a year ago against Utah. I think there were a lot of positives out of that game, and I could see it in their faces afterwards in the locker room. We now need to move forward and see if we can take what we learned and use it.

On whether his team's top-10 national ranking will motivate opponents: I think we are going to be circled the rest of the way. Whether it's SMU, Air Force, Colorado State, BYU or Utah - as long as you stay where you are at, it's going to be that way. We don't have any control over them. We just have to be able to handle what we do and play the best football game that we can. The type of work ethic this group had in the spring and summer, on the field and in the weight room, has really paid off because we haven't had many players get banged up. If you can get the same guys to play on Saturday that practiced together for the last five or six weeks, you're going to have a chance to be successful. With no off weeks, staying healthy is a big deal.

On SMU: They play with a lot of confidence and are one of the best offensive groups skill-wise. They really run around and do a lot of good things. They threw for over 400 yards last week against a Pac-10 opponent (Washington State) on the road. They have forced 14 turnovers and lead the nation with 11 interceptions. They have been very opportunistic on what they do on defense, changing their scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. They man blitz, zone blitz and do all of the different things to keep offenses off balance. All you have to do is turn on the film and see the caliber of team they have. They have a couple of guys who can run just as good as the back (C.J. Spiller) at Clemson. Aldrick Robinson is a track guy, and Emmanuel Sanders is leading the nation in catches with 11 a game. They have a transfer from Miami, Shawnbrey McNeal, that we offered a scholarship to.

June Jones has done a good job of changing the mindset at SMU. I think that is the biggest thing. In Texas, there's no reason why you don't recruit or get good players. There's over 350 Division I scholarships a year in this state alone. They are going to get better every year.

On areas of his team that pleased him at Clemson: The defensive line played great all day on a rainy field, and I thought our guys played hard all game. We didn't play smart a couple of times, but as long as we keep playing hard, we are going to have a chance.

When you look at the game, Andy (Dalton) played real consistent. He had 326 yards of total offense. You have to give him a lot of credit. We didn't have an interception. With as much water that was coming out of the sky, you also have to give our backs and return men a lot of credit. That was a tough place to play and to get done what we needed to. There weren't a lot of things in our favor. The offensive line also played well.

We did a good job of getting the ball out of our hands. Most drop-back teams are going to get the ball out in about three seconds. Right now, we are getting the ball off somewhere between 1.2 and 1.7 seconds, so it's virtually impossible to rush the passer and get a sack in that time.

Our whole goal was to not allow them to get past the 30-yard line on a kickoff and no more than a 10-yard punt return, because they had three touchdowns on returns. We had a couple of punts that didn't go as far as we wanted, but they weren't returned. Our whole goal was to take No. 6 (Jacoby Ford) and No. 28 (Spiller) out of the ball game. Except for a couple of plays, we were able to do that.


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