TCU vs. SMU Prediction, Game Preview

    TCU at SMU prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Week 4's matchup between the Horned Frogs and Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

    September 19, 2016


    TCU vs. SMU prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Week 4’s matchup between the Horned Frogs and Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.


    TCU vs. SMU Game Preview

    When: Friday, September 23 – 8:00 p.m. ET

    Where:
    Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Tex.

    Broadcast:
    ESPN

    It’s the 96th Battle for the Iron Skillet in a rivalry that means more these days to SMU, since it’s beaten TCU just twice this century. The Mustangs are still searching for sustained progress under second-year coach Chad Morris, bookending wins over North Texas and Liberty around a 40-13 loss to Baylor. Meanwhile, the Frogs hope to keep surging heading into next Saturday’s key Big 12 showdown with Oklahoma. TCU rebounded from a deflating overtime loss to Arkansas by pounding Iowa State in Fort Worth, 41-20, in a game that stopped being competitive before halftime.

    What To Know About TCU

    The Frogs are starting to enjoy balance on offense, with the passing of Kenny Hill and the running of Kyle Hicks behind a rebuilt line. Don’t expect the same potency as the past few years with Trevone Boykin under center, but TCU does posses some pop. Playing ball-control is going to benefit Gary Patterson’s team, which has been surprisingly soft on defense through the three games. The front seven is getting the job done, led by linebacker Ty Summers and a sack-happy front wall, but the secondary is a major source for concern.

    What to Know About SMU

    The Mustangs’ year veered in a new direction in Week 1, when dual-threat QB Matt Davis was lost to a season-ending ACL tear. Ben Hicks has been inconsistent out of the bullpen, throwing five picks, and he’s not nearly as threatening outside of the pocket. While running back Braeden West rose up for 220 yards and two scores on the ground versus Liberty, running lanes will be much narrower this Friday against TCU. The SMU defense is so far playing above their usual pay scale, thanks to nine picks and constant pressure from next-level defensive end Justin Lawler.

    Advantages

    Offense: TCU. The Mustangs have decent skill talent, but the gap at quarterback between Hill and Hicks is wide, and the deciding factor for these units.

    Defense: TCU. While SMU is opportunistic, it can’t match the Frogs’ strength up front, led by linemen James McFarland, Josh Carraway and Aaron Curry.

    Special Teams: TCU. Even if playmaking return man KaVontae Turpin is an injury scratch, the Frogs are in better shape than SMU, which averages 36.5 yards per punt and perennially struggles here.

    Coaching: TCU. Interesting matchup between one of the game’s sharpest offensive minds, Morris, and Patterson, a defensive whiz.

    Intangibles: SMU. The Mustangs will be home, at night and abundantly motivated to grab a signature win over a rival that’s owned this series lately.

    Matchup To Watch

    SMU WR Courtland Sutton vs. the TCU Secondary

    Sutton, who has four touchdown catches, is a legit Big 12-caliber talent going up against a sketchy defensive backfield that started converted wide receiver Deante’ Gray at corner last week. If Sutton gets proper support from Hicks, he’s capable of tormenting the Frog secondary.

    TCU vs. SMU Betting Odds

    Spread: TCU -27

    Over/Under:
    No line

    TCU vs. SMU Prediction

    The Mustangs will be fired up to host a hated rival in primetime. And the Frogs certainly could be peeking ahead to the Oklahoma game. But after a slow start, TCU will get into gear by forcing Hicks into costly mistakes and wearing down the defense with its own Hicks between the tackles and Hill on intermediate throws. The Frogs will take another small step in their recovery from the Arkansas loss.

    TCU vs. SMU Score Prediction: TCU 38, SMU 19

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 4

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