Big 12: SMU Mustangs

Big 12 morning links

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
8:00
AM ET
Katy Perry, meet Tyler Knight.
  • After his team beat Texas 28-7, Baylor coach Art Briles complained to reporters about the way the Big 12 configured the Bears' early conference schedule. "We open up Big 12 conference play as reigning champions," Briles said. "We didn’t finish eighth last year. How do we get rewarded? We go to Iowa State and go to Austin to open up conference play." I'm not sure I understand Briles' gripe. The 2014 conference schedule was constructed Nov. 5 of last year, weeks before the Bears actually won the Big 12 title. And by the way, Oklahoma, which has been the class of the league for more than decade, will actually play three games away from Norman -- at West Virginia, at TCU and Texas in Dallas -- to start the conference season.
  • Speaking of Baylor, Bears starting defensive end Jamal Palmer will miss the remainder of the year after suffering a torn ACL against Texas, the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner reported. Palmer, who has been a key part of the Baylor's defense since 2012, was an honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick last year. The Bears still have enough talent and depth on the defensive line to overcome the Palmer injury. But for a team with big aspirations, it never helps to lose a veteran starter.
  • TCU coach Gary Patterson accused Oklahoma transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield of stealing signs in TCU's 37-33 win. Mayfield played under first-year TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie at Texas Tech last year. "Old Baker Mayfield was on the sidelines and calling out every freaking signal we had," TCU QB Trevone Boykin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown after the game. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sort of denied that Mayfield was stealing signs, though it sure looked like he was on the sidelines. This is the second time this season a Big 12 coach has accused an opponent of stealing signs. Kansas State's Bill Snyder accused Auburn of the same last month. There's nothing illegal about it. It happens frequently in college football. And Cumbie should have been prepared that it might happen. But it's not exactly a good look for the Sooners, either.
  • Former Texas coach Mack Brown has been contacted by representatives from SMU about the school's vacant coaching job, the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls reported. “He was approached, I was approached, but he’s not interested in coaching anywhere right now," Brown's attorney, Joe Jamail, told Bohls. "He misses it, frankly, but he loves being on ESPN." Brown would be a great fit for SMU, the same way Larry Brown has been for the SMU basketball team. Mack Brown has plenty left in the tank and the connections in the state to get players to Dallas. Brown has said he's going to wait until December before deciding whether he wants to coach again. I hope he does.
  • Mike Gundy told The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson that Oklahoma State running back/receiver/returner Tyreek Hill has been better utilized as a decoy lately. Hill had only 11 offensive touches for 27 yards in the 37-20 win over Iowa State. "They're so zoned into to him," Gundy said. "When he's on the field, they're moving toward him, crowding him." The Cowboys are wise to take advantage of the mismatches that Hill's presence create elsewhere. But they also have to do better getting him touches in space. As his 97-yard kickoff return touchdown to open the second half underscored, Hill is way too electric to be used merely as a decoy.
The rivalry was born in 1915, and a skillet came into the mix 30 years later. It was either a friendly gesture between two student councils or a trophy bred of a tailgate argument over frying frog legs -- that second tale is more than a little dubious -- but regardless, fine cast iron cookware isn’t the only thing on the line

[+] EnlargeIron Skillet
AP Photo/John F. RhodesTCU has owned its rivalry over SMU lately, but the Mustangs did pull an upset in 2011.
This year’s edition of the Battle for the Iron Skillet between TCU and SMU might not garner much national attention, considering both teams are 1-2. But don’t overlook the fact this rivalry game has been has been sneaky important -- and a tad strange -- in the past two seasons.

TCU is 10-2 under Gary Patterson in this Metroplex showdown. The second of those two losses came in 2011, in rather crazy circumstances.

That loss ended TCU’s 22-game home win streak, but it wasn’t easy. The No. 20-ranked Horned Frogs rallied with a 23-point fourth quarter to force overtime but still lost 40-33. That game marked only the second time in its post-Death Penalty history that SMU had defeated a ranked team.

The week after that game, Patterson -- angry both about how SMU coaches and players treated his team and how the game was officiated -- went on a tirade (and probably a deserved one) that added some fire to the rivalry.

"Don't look for any help coming from us ever again," Patterson said. "SMU got a lot of help from us over the last three or four years. They are not going to get any help about a game or a conference; they are going to get no help from Gary Patterson. Don't ask me about anything. We've bent over backwards to help them because that's what I believe in."

Patterson and June Jones have reportedly mended fences since then, but his speech did underscore just how much beating TCU has meant to SMU.

The other time the Ponies bested Patterson and TCU? That was in 2005, when SMU knocked off the No. 22 Frogs one week after their upset win over Oklahoma in Norman. It was the lone blemish in TCU’s 11-1 year, and the win was hailed as SMU’s most important victory since resuming football in 1989. The 2011 win is still considered one of the milestones of Jones’ tenure in Dallas.

The last five times TCU wins, however, haven’t been all that close. Those victories over the Mustangs have come by an average margin of three touchdowns.

The closest game of those five occurred last season. TCU came in with a 12-game win streak -- the Frogs hadn’t lost since that 2011 overtime stumble -- and held onto it with a 24-16 win in a heavy rainstorm.

That ended up being Casey Pachall’s final start of the season before being arrested the following week and suspended. TCU picked off Garrett Gilbert five times, including the first two interceptions of Jason Verrett’s career.

This time around, Pachall is injured and the Frogs are only worried about getting a win, no matter the score, after early-season losses to LSU and Texas Tech. SMU would love nothing more than to go back to Fort Worth and steal another win like in 2011.

The rivalry that realignment couldn’t kill will continue into 2017, even though they’re no longer Southwest Conference and WAC foes. The two schools will keep trading home-and-aways for the next five years because they still consider the tradition important.

They’ve been playing this game for more than 90 years. Considering how close the last two years have been, and how desperate both teams are to avoid 1-3, we could be in for another classic on Saturday.

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