- David Ubben, College Football
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Only two teams walked away as winners after playing TCU a year ago: Baylor and SMU.
Both did so in rather spectacular fashion, but the Frogs will get a chance to earn some revenge against both in 2012. First up: the Mustangs.
TCU coasted through its first three games, including a road win against new conference foe Kansas. This game, though? Coach Gary Patterson found out firsthand what the Battle for the Iron Skillet means to his rivals less than an hour east down I-30.
"They play completely different against us," Patterson said. "You can throw records and throw everything else out. It’ll be like Custer going over the hill. It’s just a different mindset for them when they play us. We always know that and you’ve got to get ready for it."
In Fort Worth last year, TCU rallied from 17-point deficits in the first and fourth quarters to force overtime, but the Mustangs emerged with a 40-33 win in overtime. That was just the Mustangs' second win in the rivalry since 1998, but this time around, SMU's looking like a different team.
That might not be such a good thing.
The Mustangs already lost to fellow in-state foes Baylor by 35 in the season opener and dropped a 48-3 home game to Texas A&M this season.
Patterson, though, isn't buying the Mustangs as an overmatched opponent, even though TCU enters as more than a two-touchdown favorite.
"Both the Baylor and A&M games are close games going into halftime," Patterson said.
The Mustangs trailed Texas A&M just 7-0 with four minutes to play in the first half before a late run put the Aggies ahead, 20-0. Baylor led just 14-3 with three minutes to play in the first half before adding 10 points in the final two minutes to lead 24-3 at half.
"They kind of broke out in the second half but both games are close," Patterson said. "We expect, especially going over there, it’s a crowd, it’s a nighttime game and you’ve got to get ready to play. I think our kids are excited about it based on what they showed (on Sunday). "
What's not being spoken just yet is TCU's ability to measure up to its in-state foes with a common opponent. TCU won't get its shot at Baylor until Oct. 13, but the Bears cracked the top 25 this week for the first time this season.
TCU's been a mainstay, and enters the game ranked No. 15, the highest-ranked opponent SMU has faced all season.
The Frogs will face a big force in 230-pound bruiser Zach Line, but Patterson is anxious to see more efficiency from his offense, which has six turnovers in the red zone in two weeks.
A 20-point win over Virginia (two turnovers) last week and a 14-point road win at Kansas (four turnovers) featured the Frogs' offense leaving bushels of points off the scoreboard thanks to miscues in enemy territory.
"The last two games I’ve haven’t been very happy with the offense, and that’s meant in a compliment way. I don’t think we’ve close to lived up to our potential to what we can do," Patterson said. "As a group, I think we’ve grown up. We need to play a lot better. I don’t think we’ve come close to reaching our potential and the league we’re going to play in, the guys with the ball last sometimes wins."
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