Iron Skillet Reheated

The last time the Frogs played in Dallas, SMU won 21-10. That was 2005, the year TCU finished that one rivalry loss away from perfection. The two meet in Dallas again on Saturday at 7 P.M. for the Iron Skillet.

Fort Worth and Dallas have a history of rivalry. The two towns sprang up 30 miles apart in the middle of the 1800's. Dallas claimed to be more civilized, while Fort Worth embraced the "Cowtown" atmosphere, adopting the nickname of the city "where the West begins." That rivalry led to reports of Dallas natives telling settlers that Fort Worth was a wild Indian Territory. The two cities fought throughout the 1900's over which would have the dominate air field. And yes, the rivalry even spread to the football field.

TCU and SMU have played each other 87 times since 1915. The Horned Frogs hold a slight lead in the series with a 41-39-7 edge over the Mustangs. In the years following World War II, the student bodies of TCU and SMU got together, creating the Iron Skillet. The skillet would be awarded to the winning team after each meeting, until the teams played again. The tradition and skillet was lost until 1993, when a new Iron Skillet was selected and the rivalry reheated (pun intended).

The last time the Frogs played in Dallas, SMU won 21-10. That was 2005, the year TCU finished that one rivalry loss away from perfection. The SMU win also came the week after the Frogs had pulled off an upset of the Sooners in Norman.

Both the Frogs and Mustangs need to win Saturday, which should give an already-electric atmosphere added buzz. The Frogs have a good team now. They need a win to get a chance at cracking the Top 25. They also need to have a good game on both sides of the ball before they head to face the Sooners, the No. 2 team in the nation, on Sept. 27 in Norman. SMU (1-2) needs a victory to restore morale. Last week, the Mustangs were beat up by Texas Tech 43-7, and they lost their first game to Rice 56-27.

SMU has made a huge effort to revamp its football program. It hired Head Coach June Jones, who already has 26 commits. If you have visited the extra mustard pages of SportsIllustrated.com, you will see banner ads for this weekend's TCU-SMU showdown for the Iron Skillet. The giant headline says: "June Cometh." SMU is trying to breathe life into its football team through big-name coaching hires and advertising. The strategy will pay off…just not this year.

The Mustangs' offense is not close to being ready to face the Frogs' defense. TCU is only allowing 174 yards a game, No. 2 in the nation. The Frogs D is in the Top-5 in the nation in pass defense efficiency rating, and opponent first downs. Safety Stephen Coleman has an interception in each game, and the offense has yet to turn the ball over.

June Jones's run-and-shoot offensive scheme, which is run by true-freshman Bo Levi Mitchell, is scoring 27 points a game and averaging 303 yards a game passing. The Mustangs have thrown the ball 123 times and attempted 54 rushes in three games.

TCU should be able to take advantage of Mitchell's inexperience. Mitchell has thrown 8 interceptions already, and he will be going up against one of the best pass defenses in the nation Saturday. TCU is No. 1 in the nation so far in time of possession, and it shouldn't change this week. The Mustangs will come out firing with energy befitting a rivalry game, but as the game continues, the Frogs will pull away. Patterson has talked about how SMU always plays well against TCU, and I expect a physical, fiery game. The Fogs have an edge across the board, which should translate to another TCU victory (TCU is 7-1 against SMU since 1999).

The SMU - TCU rivalry will be become more intense in the next few years. With Jones recruiting against Patterson in the DFW area, the Iron Skillet game winner will have an edge in recruiting for an entire year. SMU will become much more competitive, especially when Mitchell has a few years of experience running the new offense. But for now, TCU, and Fort Worth, have the bragging rights. June will come. Next year.


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