TCU vs. SMU: Keys to Victory for Each Side in Saturday's Showdown
The hard work hasn't quite begun for TCU—it gets one more should-be gimme before it has to continue the bulk of its Big 12 schedule.
That's not to say the Horned Frogs haven't been challenged yet; they did have to take on Kansas in Week 2, but given all of the talent in the conference this year, even that was a relatively easy game.
In a couple of weeks, the challenges will really start pouring in for TCU.
For now, it gets Southern Methodist, losers of two of three. The Mustangs' one victory, however, was a 52-0 shutout of Stephen F. Austin (since you probably need it, here is that big-time institution's ESPN.com page).
Here's a look at what each team needs to do to get a win this week.
In their one win this season, the Mustangs did the two things that can guarantee victory.
They played perfect defense and combined it with a solid offensive attack.
That being said, they did it against a team that is 1-3 in the Southland Conference.
In that win, the Mustangs came out with a balanced, consistent offense. After getting shut out in the first quarter, the offense scored at least two touchdowns in each period from there on out (except the fourth, in which the SMU defense scored twice).
Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert had a very good game, throwing for 205 yards and a touchdown and allowing the backfield to handle a good portion of the offensive load. Senior running back Zach Line rushed for 60 yards and two scores.
However, what really stood out in this contest was the performance of the Mustangs defense. Not only did the unit hold the Lumberjacks scoreless, but every single time SF Austin made a mistake, the Mustangs made it pay.
In total, the defense scored more touchdowns than the offense, returning a blocked field goal, two fumbles and an interception.
The Mustangs don't necessarily need to be primarily concerned with their offense this week. If their defense can somehow be that tough against No. 15 TCU, it will be in very good shape on Saturday.
Given the fact that SMU followed up that big win with a 48-3 loss to Texas A&M, that is a lofty goal.
Like the Mustangs, TCU has relied on a very stingy defense in order to get through its first three games of the season without a hitch. In wins over Grambling State, Kansas and Virginia, the Horned Frogs have outscored opponents 103-13, never allowing more than a single touchdown in a game.
SMU already has enough trouble keeping its offense rolling as it is. In its two losses, it scored just 27 points combined. Therefore, if TCU can stymie the Mustangs as effectively as it's managed to stymie its other opponents, it should have no problem at all getting out of this road game with a win.
Who's your pick to win on Saturday?
Defense should be the first priority, obviously, but so should scoring with efficiency. That's not something the Horned Frogs have done in their last two wins.
In their Big 12 debut against Kansas, they only managed a touchdown and a field goal in the first half, and they were shut out in the final quarter. The fact that they managed to shut out the Jayhawks in the second half was their saving grace.
Things went a little bit better the following week against UVA. The Horned Frogs scored a touchdown in each of the first two quarters, but they could only convert field goals in the third, and they didn't score their final touchdown until there was just over a minute left in the game.
Considering the bulk of the Big 12 schedule kicks off after this week, TCU needs to take this opportunity to keep doing what it's been doing defensively. However, if it can get rolling a little bit more on offense, that would help as well.
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