College Football Odds & Picks for SMU vs. TCU: Horned Frogs To Roll Through Mustangs

College Football Odds & Picks for SMU vs. TCU: Horned Frogs To Roll Through Mustangs article feature image

Icon Sportsswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Duggan.

  • An all-Texas battle takes center stage when SMU travels to Fort Worth to take on TCU in the "Iron Skillet" game.
  • The Mustangs are attempting to stay undefeated under Sonny Dykes.
  • Mike McNamara previews the matchup and offers up his pick.

SMU vs. TCU Odds

SMU Odds+9.5 (-110)
TCU Odds-9.5 (-110)
Moneyline+300 / -400
Over/Under65.5 (-105 / -115)
Time12 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The state of Texas plays host to a lot of big games this weekend, but the battle for the Iron Skillet remains one of the most intriguing matchups out there.

These two programs don't like each other. Plain and simple.

Just ask SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice, who was quoted this week saying "No one comes to Texas for Fort Worth; they come for Dallas."

I will say, Fort Worth isn't exactly on the top of my bucket list for places to visit, but that seems a bit harsh from Rice. Toss in the fact that both groups remain undefeated through three weeks of play, and the stakes have gotten just a little bit higher.

The Mustangs rolled through Abilene Christian and North Texas to begin their 2021 campaign and then survived a close battle at Louisiana Tech last week with a wild win on a Hail Mary conversion as time expired.

TCU blew out Duquesne to start the year and then pulled out a tight game against Cal in Week 2. The Horned Frogs were on a bye last week, so Gary Patterson's club gets two weeks to prepare for the Mustangs.

SMU vs. TCU Betting Preview

Saturday, Sept. 25
12 p.m. ET

Southern Methodist Mustangs

Mustangs Offense

Shane Buechele has moved onto professional football, but this Pony offense has not missed a beat thus far in 2021. Oklahoma transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai has already thrown for 1,023 yards in three games, tossing 16 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

Ulysses Bentley IV has been a force on the ground, averaging 5.5 yards a carry and leading a balanced Mustang rushing attack.

It will be fascinating to see if this offense can continue putting up these types of numbers when it steps up a weight class this Saturday against the TCU defense.

Mustangs Defense

On the other side of the ball, the SMU defense still leaves a lot to be desired. The Mustangs surrendered 506 yards of total offense against North Texas and followed that up last weekend by giving up 483 to Louisiana Tech.

This unit ranks 88th in Line Yards and 74th in Pass Success, which stands out to me because it hasn't been particularly strong stopping the run or the pass.

Couple that with a Havoc ranking of 96th, and it's hard to feel good about SMU being able to make things difficult for Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs offense.

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TCU Horned Frogs

Horned Frogs Offense

A year ago, the TCU offense was never really able to get into a complete flow due to some injury issues. Through two games in 2021, that has been a different story.

Duggan is using his arm and his legs to find success, throwing for four TDs thus far and rushing for two. Duggan still needs to clean up his decision-making a little bit, but all the tools are there for the junior to have a breakout season.

Zach Evans leads a very formidable Horned Frog rushing attack. The sophomore ran for 190 yards on the ground against Cal, and the unit as a whole ranks 20th in the nation in Line Yards.

Look for this offense to try to overpower an SMU front that has struggled to stop the run.

Horned Frogs Defense

I can't imagine Patterson was too pleased with his defense following the Cal game. Patterson has made a career with suffocating defenses that get after opponents in unique schematic ways.

The Golden Bears went for 442 yards of total offense and converted nearly 50% of their third-down attempts against TCU.

With an extra week to get ready for the matchup against SMU, I expect Patterson to get back to the basics with this group and have them ready to go on Saturday.

This is still a unit with plenty of talent, despite some brutal numbers right now. The Horned Frogs are outside the Top 100 in Line Yards and Defensive Finishing Drives, albeit in a small sample size.

I trust in Patterson to make some significant adjustments ahead of Saturday's contest.

SMU vs. TCU Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how SMU and TCU match up statistically:

SMU Offense vs. TCU Defense




Rush Success4282
Line Yards15130
Pass Success741
Pass Blocking**4968
Big Play16113
Finishing Drives49121
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

TCU Offense vs. SMU Defense




Rush Success4131
Line Yards2088
Pass Success9374
Pass Blocking**710
Big Play7259
Finishing Drives11950
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling12195
PFF Coverage85112
Middle 8113
SP+ Special Teams122100
Plays per Minute1695
Rush Rate47.6% (106)61.5% (30)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Looking at this matchup from both sides of the ball, I believe the Horned Frogs have a decisive advantage. I trust in Patterson with two weeks of prep to clean up some of the defensive mistakes he has seen to begin the year.

Patterson has always employed an attacking style of defense, and he will look to get after Mordecai and make things really uncomfortable for him. TCU very well may surrender a big play or two, but they will also get the Ponies off schedule and get its fair share of stops.

On the flip side, I have zero confidence in the Mustang defense being able to slow down the dynamic duo of Duggan and Evans. SMU is not equipped to slow down Evans in the trenches, and Duggan is very mobile in the RPO game.

Expect the Horned Frogs to set the tone on the ground early and then look to take the top off the SMU defense later in the game with Duggan's arm.

SMU vs. TCU Betting Pick

I understand that weird things can always happen in rivalry games, but I feel very comfortable laying the points in this spot. I took the Frogs midweek at -9 but still support a play all the way up to -11.

Patterson has been a monster coming off of a bye throughout his coaching career.

The Horned Frogs offense should be able to get whatever they want whenever they want it. The Iron Skillet is returning to Fort Worth, and maybe that will make someone want to visit Cowtown.

Pick: TCU -9 (Play to -11)

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