Sunday, September 19, 2010
Iron Skillet '05: Ponies stun No. 22 TCU
By Jeff Caplan
The first in a series flashing back to memorable moments in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. This season's version kicks off Friday night at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has a long memory, so Sept. 10, 2005, practically feels like yesterday.
The Horned Frogs were feeling great after going up to Norman, Okla., and holding the No. 5 Sooners to 225 yards of offense in a season-opening 17-10 victory in front of 84,332 stunned Oklahoma fans.
The last time SMU took home the Iron Skillet was after the Mustangs' 2005 shocker against TCU.
The Frogs used that victory to break into the AP Top 25 poll at No. 22. Next up was a short trip to Gerald J. Ford Stadium at University Park to play the downtrodden SMU Mustangs, who were coming off a season-opening home loss to Baylor. This was supposed to be an easy one for the Horned Frogs, who had big dreams of an undefeated season and a first-ever berth in a BCS game.
But, that's life in college football: Get too far ahead of yourself and all heck can break loose. After all, the Horned Frogs had beaten the Mustangs six straight times heading into the '05 matchup, their longest streak in a series that dates to 1915. The Iron Skillet wasn't going anywhere as far as the Frogs were concerned.
"The last time, back in 2005, I went to SMU after a big win, I got my ass beat," Patterson said after his fourth-ranked Horned Forgs spanked Baylor, 45-10, Saturday afternoon.
Patterson remembers it well. SMU's stunning 21-10 victory, in which it did not allow an offensive touchdown and hundreds of win-starved students stormed the field, went down as the program's most important win since coming off the Death Penalty in 1989. The Mustangs got to keep the Iron Skillet for two years because the series went on hiatus in 2006. Since, TCU has won the last three and it must make it four if the Frogs' current goal of a second consecutive undefeated regular season and BCS game are to come to fruition.
New SMU coach June Jones and a revived Mustangs program know it, too. As it turned out, the SMU loss in the second week of the 2005 season played the ultimate spoiler. It would have been a historic season for the Frogs, who went on to win 10 in a row, sweeping Utah and BYU in consecutive overtime thrillers and claiming the Mountain West Conference championship.
But, Sept. 10, 2005, belonged to the Mustangs, who hadn't beaten a ranked opponent since 1986, prior to the Death Penalty.
DeMyron Martin was the star of the game for SMU. He ran 26 times for 118 yards, with scores of 9 and 2 yards. He caught two passes for 30 more yards.
"Tonight was about SMU pride. We're tired of hearing about TCU and how they don't want to see this game as a rivalry," then-SMU coach Phil Bennett said. "I'll tell you something, they better see it as a rivalry. I can see why they haven't, because we haven't proved it and haven't earned their respect recently. They beat us 44-0 last year. But, tonight I told the guys you earn respect. You don't talk about it, you earn it."
Nothing went right for TCU. Quarterback Tye Gunn misfired on his first seven passes and finished 16-of-36 for 134 yards with three interceptions, two in the closing minutes. Running back Lonta Hobbs was lost to a groin injury in the first quarter. Even the kicking game went haywire. Peter LoCoco missed 3-of-4 field-goal attempts, including a 31-yarder that would have cut SMU's lead to 14-13 in the third quarter.
''We didn't score a touchdown on offense tonight," Patterson said, "and you're not going to win many games like that."