History behind tradition of SMU-TCU rivalry
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
"The Battle for the Iron Skillet" is a moniker given to the annual game between the SMU Mustangs and TCU Horned Frogs.
Separated by only 40 miles, the SMU vs. TCU rivalry dates all the way back to 1915. SMU and TCU have played each other in all but six football seasons and the Horned Frogs lead the all-time series 43-39-7.
The first game between SMU and TCU was played in 1915 in Fort Worth. That year was SMU's inaugural season and the team's mascot was the Parsons, not the Mustangs. The Horned Frogs cruised to a 43-0 victory in the first of 89 meetings against SMU.
The Mustangs won their first game against TCU in 1923, when the Horned Frogs joined the Southwest Conference (SWC). SMU romped TCU 40-0 en route to an undefeated season and the team's first conference title.
Ownby Stadium was built in 1926 and SMU hosted TCU in their first ever homecoming football game. The Mustangs came away victorious with a narrow 14-13 victory.
In 1935, the Mustangs were ranked No.1 in the country, and played second-ranked TCU and its star quarterback Sammy Baugh for the unofficial national championship. The winner would earn the right to play in the Rose Bowl against Stanford on Jan. 1, 1936.
SMU jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Baugh rallied the Horned Frogs to a 14-14 tie. However, wide receiver Bobby Wilson scored a touchdown on a crucial 4th down early in the 4th quarter and the Mustangs were able to hold on for the 20-14 win.
SMU won back-to-back Southwest Conference (SWC) championships in 1947 and 1948 but failed to beat TCU in either one of those years. The teams played to a 19-19 tie in 1947.
In 1948, RB Doak Walker rushed his way to college football's greatest individual award, the Heisman Trophy. Walker also led the team to a 9-1-1 record and a 21-13 victory over Oregon in the Cotton Bowl but couldn't manage to propel the Mustangs over their biggest rivals.
TCU played SMU to a 7-7 draw, which prompted a five-game series win streak for the Horned Frogs that lasted until 1954 when the Mustangs were finally able to pick up a win.
During the 1960's, TCU and SMU enjoyed respective victories over each other as neither team dominated the series but things would change in the 70's.
1971 would be the last time TCU would beat SMU for a long while. In 1972, the Mustangs defeated the Horned Frogs 35-22, setting off a 15 game series win streak that would last until 1989.
In 1982, SMU enjoyed an undefeated season which included a 20-9 win over TCU and a 7-3 victory over QB Dan Marino and the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Cotton Bowl.
The Mustangs were controversially ranked No. 2 behind Penn State in the final rankings despite their status as only undefeated team in college football.
SMU would continue their dominance over TCU until the death penalty was enforced in 1986.
In 1989, the Horned Frogs defeated the Mustangs 28-10 in their first meeting since the death penalty.
In 1995 the SWC diminished and died off, and both SMU and TCU moved on to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Mustangs defeated the Horned Frogs, 27-24, in their first battle as WAC teams in 1996.
TCU moved into Conference USA in 2001 but both teams kept the rivalry going in a yearly non-conference game. Ironically the Mustangs joined Conference USA in 2005, the same year the Horned Frogs joined the Mountain West Conference.
That year, an unranked SMU beat then 24th ranked TCU for SMU's first win against a ranked team in 19 years (since October 1986). TCU had won the previous seven football games played against SMU.
Last year the No. 11 Horned Frogs throttled the Mustangs 39-14 in Forth Worth. Mustangs QB Bo Levi Mitchell threw two interceptions and the Horned Frogs nearly doubled SMU's total yardage output.
2010 is a whole different year. Although, the Horned Frogs are ranked No. 4 in the nation, the Mustangs are coming off their first bowl victory since 1984, and pony pride is at an all time high.
The two rivals will square off Friday night at 7 p.m. in Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The game will be nationally televised as the 17-point underdog Mustangs will try to pull off a historical upset against the Horned Frogs.