TCU at SMU
September 5, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards is 3-1 on his guaranteed college plays and also 3-1 on four college football totals to date. He's got the TCU at SMU 'over/under' locked and loaded as his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection, so don't miss out on this winner!
Matchup: (16) TCU at SMU
Venue: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Time/TV: Friday, Sept. 7, ESPN2, 8:00 p.m. ET
Southern Methodist will try to shake off a dismal debut to the Sonny Dykes Era on Friday night when it plays host to TCU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. As of Wednesday afternoon, most betting shops had the Horned Frogs installed as 22-point road favorites with a total of 58.5. The Mustangs were +1250 on the money line at both 5Dimes.eu and SBG Global (risk $100 to win $1,250).
TCU (1-0 straight up, 0-1 against the spread) has won five games in a row over SMU by at least 19 points, including last year’s 56-36 win that resulted in a push as a 20-point home favorite. Gary Patterson’s program has beaten the Mustangs 16 times out of the past 18 meetings in this in-state rivalry.
When these schools collided at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Ft. Worth in 2017, the 92 combined points soared ‘over’ the 65-point total. SMU took a surprising 19-7 lead until TCU woke up midway through the second quarter and scored back-to-back TDs to go ahead, 21-19. The Mustangs responded with their third short field goal of the half to go back in front 22-21 with 17 seconds left until intermission.
However, TCU quarterback Kenny Hill found Jalen Reagor for a 38-yard scoring strike on the last play of the second quarter to put the Frogs back ahead at halftime. It was still a one-possession game (35-29) going into the final stanza, but TCU scored 21 straight points to put the game away.
Hill threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Darius Anderson rushed for 89 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, while KaVontae Turpin had seven receptions for 88 yards and one TD. Reagor had three catches for 79 yards and one TD, and Kenedy Snell scored TDs on a 71-yard reception and a 10-yard scamper.
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks connected on 17-of-37 passes for 305 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Ke’Mon Freeman rushed for 57 yards and two TDs on 12 carries, while James Proche caught three balls for 93 yards and one TD.
TCU returned five starters on offense and six on defense from last season’s team that finished 11-3 SU and 6-7-1 ATS. One of those returning starters on defense was lost to a season-ending injury during camp in August, though. Sophomore nose tackle Ross Blacklock, who was the Big 12’s Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American in ’17, will miss the entire 2018 campaign. Blacklock produced 27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks last year.
Patterson is the second-longest tenured coach in the FBS behind only Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. The 58-year-old has been offered a slew of jobs to leave, turning down all of them during his 18-year tenure. Patterson has produced 11 seasons with double-digit win totals, winning at least 11 games 10 different times.
He is 161-57 overall and has overseen smooth transitions from the now-defunct WAC to the Mountain West (2005) and then into a Power Five league in the Big 12 (2012). Patterson’s program started slowly in the Big 12, going 4-5 and 2-7 in league action in ’12 and ’13. Since then, however, the Frogs are 26-10 vs. Big 12 foes over the last four seasons.
TCU beat up on FCS foe Southern by a 55-7 count last week, but it failed to cover the number as a 50-point home favorite. True sophomore QB Shawn Robinson made his second career start, completing 17-of-24 passes for 182 yards and three TDs without an interception. He had 45 rushing yards and two TDs on runs of 36 and nine yards on his only attempts.
Turpin produced 108 all-purpose yards on 10 touches, while Reagor had four receptions for 47 yards and one TD. Reagor also had a nine-yard run on his lone carry and a 37-yard kickoff return. Anderson, a third-team All-Big 12 selection when he ran for a team-best 768 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.0 yards per carry last year, will be fresh for SMU after rushing for 36 yards on merely eight attempts vs. Southern.
Reagor, a sophomore WR, led TCU in TD catches (eight) and receiving yards (576) on 33 catches as a true freshman in ’17. He is a preseason fourth-team All-Big 12 pick in Phil Steele’s preseason magazine. Anderson is a preseason second-team All-Big 12 choice, while junior OT Lucas Niang is a third-team selection and junior OG Cordel Iwuagwu is a fourth-teamer like Reagor.
Steele’s Big 12 Unit Rankings shine a bright light on TCU’s defense. As for the offense? Not so much. The Frogs are ranked seventh (in the 10-team conference) at the QB position, fourth at RB, sixth at WR and seventh on the offensive line.
The defense is a much different deal, as Patterson’s unit is ranked tops in the league on the defensive line, at linebacker, in the secondary and on special teams. Steele’s National Unit rankings have TCU at ninth on both the d-line and at LB, 12th in the secondary and third on special teams.
Turpin is a preseason first-team all-conference choice in Steele’s mag as the kick and punt returner. He averaged 16.2 yards per punt return with one TD last year, in addition to averaging 30.8 yards per kick return with another TD. The dynamic senior had 41 receptions for 394 yards and one TD, and he also ran for 86 yards and a pair of scores on 11 totes for a 7.8 YPC average.
Senior DE Ben Banogu is the star of the defense, garnering first-team All-Big 12 honors last season when he tallied 49 tackles, 8.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, seven QB hurries, three forced fumbles and one pass broken up. Other defensive standouts for the Frogs include senior LB Ty Summers, senior safety Niko Small and junior CB Jeff Gladney.
Summers recorded five tackles, one sack, one TFL and one QB hurry in last week’s opener. He had 64 tackles, five PBU, four sacks, four TFL’s, three QB hurries, one interception and one forced fumble in ’17. Gladney tallied 28 tackles, five PBU and two interceptions for 94 return yards and one TD last year. He had two tackles, one TFL and one PBU vs. Southern.
TCU scored at a 33.6 points-per-game clip in ’17, while its defense surrendered just 19.0 PPG. The Frogs enjoyed a 1,229-yard advantage over their foes in total offense last season, and they were +3 in turnover margin.
Patterson’s team won its first seven games of ’17 to climb up to No. 4 in the national rankings. TCU’s unbeaten season ended with a 14-7 loss at 25th-ranked Iowa State. After bouncing back to thump Texas 24-7, the Frogs saw their College Football Playoff hopes disappear in a 38-20 defeat at fifth-ranked Oklahoma. They handily won at Texas Tech and vs. Baylor at home to qualify for the Big 12 Championship Game and a rematch with the Sooners, who delivered similar treatment in a 41-17 triumph to clinch a CFP berth.
To its credit, TCU rallied from a big first-half deficit to knock off 15th-ranked Stanford 39-37 at the Alamo Bowl. The Cardinal took the money as a three-point underdog, however.
SMU (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) saw head coach Chad Morris leave to take the Arkansas job after leading the school to its first bowl game since 2012. The Mustangs went 7-6 SU and 6-6-1 ATS last year, dropping a 51-10 decision to La. Tech at the Frisco Bowl. (Dykes served as HC in this game, but he’d only been on the job for about two weeks.)
Dykes’s squad returns six starters on offense and eight on defense. The Mustangs lost just 19 lettermen, but they still took woodshed treatment in a 46-23 loss at North Texas as three-point road underdogs in last week’s opener. The 69 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 71.5-point total.
SMU trailed the Mean Green 20-0 at halftime and 36-0 going into the fourth quarter. North Texas enjoyed an enormous 529-256 advantage in total yards and a 30-9 edge in first downs.
Hicks completed only 12-of-24 throws for 252 yards and two TDs with one interception. He had zero help from the ground game that was limited to four yards on 19 attempts (0.2 YPC). Senior RB Braeden West had a five-yard TD run and caught three passes for 86 yards and one TD. Proche had two receptions for 77 yards and one TD.
Hicks was outstanding as a sophomore in ’17, completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 3,569 yards with a 33/12 TD-INT ratio. He has 25 career starts under his belt. Hicks lost a pair of elite WRs in Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton, who combined for 182 catches for 2,321 yards and 25 TD grabs last season.
Proche caught 40 balls for 816 yards and six TDs in ’17. He was a second-team preseason All-AAC selection in Steele’s mag. Junior RB Xavier Jones was a second-team All-AAC pick last year and a preseason first-teamer. However, he was only given two carries that gained just three yards against the Mean Green. Jones had 1,075 rushing yards and nine TDs with a 5.9 YPC average in ’17.
Dykes admitted Monday night on his weekly radio show that Jones wasn’t healthy the last couple of weeks of camp. He called him “probably 85-90 percent” going into the North Texas game. “The good thing is I think he’ll be back this week full go and he’s doing much better,” Dykes told PonyStampeded.com.
Even if Jones can’t go, West and Freeman are excellent back-up options even if the stats didn’t suggest as much vs. North Texas. West rushed for 568 yards and two TDs with a 7.8 YPC average in ’17, while Freeman had 543 rushing yards, 11 TDs and a 4.1 YPC average.
Since 2014, SMU has limped to a 4-11 spread record in 15 games as a home underdog. Meanwhile, TCU has compiled an 8-14 ATS record as a road favorite since 2011, but we should note that the Frogs went 3-1 ATS in four such spots last season.
Two SMU starters are on the injury report. Junior OT Bryce Wilds is ‘questionable’ due to an undisclosed issue and junior DE Tyeson Neals is ‘out’ for the next several weeks with a knee injury. Neals produced 19 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four TFL’s and two QB hurries last year.
For TCU, senior starting DE L.J. Collier and Blacklock’s back-up nose tackle Joseph Broadnax are both ‘questionable’ due to disciplinary matters. Collier had 18 tackles, four sacks, two QB hurries, one interception and 0.5 TFL’s in ’17, while Broadnax contributed 14 tackles, two TFL’s, 1.5 sacks, one QB hurry and one PBU.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on ESPN2.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- The ‘over’ is 7-2-1 in the past 10 meetings of the TCU-SMU rivalry.
-- Former Georgia Tech RB Dedrick Mills was dismissed from the program by Paul Johnson in August of 2017 for an unspecified violation of team rules. As a freshman in 2016, Mills led the Yellow Jackets in rushing yards (771) and rushing TDs with 12. He’s playing juco ball at Garden City Community College in Kansas but missed most of last year injured. Anyway, he announced on his Twitter account this week that he’s verbally committed to Scott Frost and Nebraska. Mills hopes to get a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA for 2017 and if it’s granted, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining at Nebraska starting in 2019 (assuming he sticks to his verbal pledge).
-- North Texas junior QB Mason Fine had himself a day vs. SMU last week. Fine completed 40-of-50 passes for 444 yards and three TDs without an interception.
-- Hawaii QB Cole McDonald has been nothing short of sensational in first two career starts, leading the Warriors to a pair of easy wins as double-digit underdogs. In Week Zero at Colorado State as a 17-point underdog, McDonald had his team up 37-7 late in the third quarter. The Rams rallied to make it interesting but still lost by a 43-34 count. Then in Week 1, Hawaii trounced Navy 59-41 as a 13-point ‘dog. McDonald has completed 71.8 percent of his throws for 846 yards and nine TDs without a pick. He also has a pair of rushing scores.
-- After opening as a 3.5-point home favorite Sunday night for this week’s double-revenge spot vs. USC, Stanford was up to a 5.5-point ‘chalk’ to the Trojans by Wednesday afternoon. The Cardinal will be without starting senior center Jesse Burkett, who is ‘out’ for undisclosed reasons. Burkett has 28 career starts to his credit.
-- Former Alabama and Arizona State QB Blake Barnett made his debut for Charlie Strong’s USF team in its 34-14 home win over Elon last week. Barnett completed 24-of-34 passes for 305 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran for 31 yards and one TD on eight attempts. The Bulls play host to Ga. Tech this weekend.
-- Indiana is already without its top RB Morgan Ellison due to an indefinite suspension. The Hoosiers will now be sans RB Cole Gest for the rest of the year after he tore his ACL in the team’s opener vs. FIU. Gest rushed for 428 yards and one TD while averaging 4.6 YPC in ’17.
-- Louisville junior DE Jonathan Greenard is ‘out’ indefinitely with a wrist injury that includes ligament damage. Greenard had 48 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s, seven sacks, eight QB hurries and one PBU for the Cardinals last season.
-- Illinois fifth-year senior WR Mike Dudek sustained a third career season-ending injury in his team’s season-opening win over Kent State. Dudek was a second-team All-Big-Ten selection as a freshman in 2014 when he had 76 receptions for 1,038 yards and six TDs. Best of luck to him in his recovery and his future whether it be on the gridiron or not!
-- Miami, Fl. and Florida State are both 0-1 for the first time since 1975. No wonder I’ve been sleeping like a champ the last two nights!
-- The last time a team lost its season opener and won the national title was Miami in 1983. Who did the Hurricanes lose to? Florida. How do I know? Because I was there. The Gators were up 28-0 in the final seconds as UM moved into UF territory. Former HC Howard Schnellenberger called a timeout with just a few seconds left so his place-kicker could attempt a field goal on the game’s final play. He made the long kick to dodge cream-cheese treatment in the 28-3 loss.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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