Week 5 – TCU at SMU

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – TCU at SMU

TCU (3-0) at SMU (1-2) Sept. 29, 7:00, FSN

Here's The Deal: The Iron Skillet will be at stake at Ford Stadium this Saturday night. So, too, will TCU's No. 14 ranking. The Horned Frogs have been flying below the radar in their first season in the Big 12, hardly making waves outside of Fort Worth with wins over Grambling, Kansas and Virginia. Still, as long as Gary Patterson has been on the sideline, this remains a well-coached, often overlooked program that has the quarterback and the defensive chops to remain in the Top 25 all season long. While TCU has been rising above expectations, SMU has slipped below them of late. No, the Mustangs weren't supposed to defeat Baylor or Texas A&M this month, but losing by a combined score of 107-27 is cause for concern. They did surprise the Frogs last season, which is exactly the kind of upset this team needs in order to generate some kind of a spark.

Why TCU Might Win: While SMU presents some unique challenges that the first three opponents did not, but this is still a very good Horned Frogs defense. The team has allowed just one touchdown in 12 quarters, a meaningless score at the end of last week's blowout of Virginia. Household names? Not here. Instead, TCU is all about the kind of collaborative effort that results in a top 5 national ranking in third-down and red-zone defense. Rookie DE Devonte Fields, LB Joel Hasley and LB Kenny Cain have been making the most plays, but it's not as if they'll be winning the Bednarik Award this December.

Why SMU Might Win: When the Mustangs pull a surprise, it's usually because the defense is creating turnovers and chaos. In TCU, they'll be facing an offense that's led by a very good quarterback, Casey Pachall, but is still having its problems. The Frogs have only scored 27 points over the last two games, recently lost top back Waymon James for the season and have been abysmal in the red zone. SMU, which leads Conference USA in takeaways, will attack the line of scrimmage with DE Margus Hunt and LB Ja'Gared Davis in the hope that CB Kenneth Acker and S Ryan Smith can take a couple of errant throws back the other way.

What To Watch Out For: Ballyhooed Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert has not played well for SMU through his first three games. Beyond just the four picks and three touchdowns, he's been unable to stretch the defense, which is going to be a problem against this week's opponent. A narrower field is going to allow the Horned Frogs to press closer to the line to slow down the Mustangs' best weapon, RB Zach Line. Opponents are completing well below 50% of their passes on TCU, which is going to make for a frustrating evening for Gilbert and his targets.

What Will Happen: SMU will need to open up its offense to beat a ranked team this year. And that's not happening against TCU. The Horned Frogs play the game tough and smart, rarely giving anything away for nothing. The Mustangs will have to earn everything they get on the Hilltop, which won't be much this weekend. TCU will continue to shine of defense and sputter in the red zone on offense, but turnovers and short fields will make life a whole lot easier for Pachall and talented receivers Brandon Carter and Josh Boyce.

CFN Prediction: TCU 34 … SMU 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) TCU -16 O/U: 54.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 2