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TCU at SMU Game Preview
by Lenny Del Genio
Friday, September 24th, 8:00 ET

Non-traditional Texas football powers, past and present, collide Friday night in Dallas when fourth-ranked TCU plays a dangerous road game against upstart SMU. More than just the "Iron Skillet" (goes to the winning team annually) is on the line here as the Horned Frogs are seeking an unbeaten regular season and BCS Title Game berth. They come in as decided road favorites on the betting line, laying as many as 17.5 points at some offshore sportsbooks.

This is the fourth straight year these schools will meet. TCU has won the previous three, all by double-digits, but is just 1-2 ATS in those games having been favored by 28 last year (W 39-14) and 23 in 2007 (W 21-7). In their last visit to Dallas, two years ago, they completely buried the Mustangs 48-7 as 24-point favorites in HC June Jones first season. This is the final non-conference game for both teams.

In last year's 25-point win, TCU's Jeremy Kerley returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown, the school's first punt return for a TD in seven seasons. SMU did jump out to a 7-0 lead before allowing 25 unanswered points. The Mustangs' 224 total yards marked their lowest offensive output of the entire season.

The Horned Frogs have yet to leave the Lone Star State this season, having opened their season with a hard fought 30-21 win over Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium. They did not cover as 13.5-point chalk. Since that time, they've been very impressive in routs of Tennessee Tech (62-7) and Baylor (45-10). QB Dalton was very impressive last week vs. a Baylor team many thought could give TCU a dog fight as he completed his first 11 passes and finished 21 of 23 for 267 yards and two touchdowns as the offense scored touchdowns on each of its first five drives.

Dalton has more victories (32) than any other active signal caller in college football, and ranks 15th in the FBS with a 161.4 passer rating. He has completed 74.6 percent of his throws for 624 yards and four touchdowns while adding 113 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Horned Frogs are 17-1 SU their last 18 games, with only a loss to Boise State in last year's Fiesta Bowl and are averaging 45.7 PPG in 2010.

The defense, as is usually the case under HC Patterson in Fort Worth, has been very good. The Horned Frogs stop unit ranks fourth nationally, allowing only 222.7 yards per game. Opponents are also converting only 29.7% of their third down attempts as well.

SMU has been a real nice story under HC Jones and continues to improve. Last season ended with the program's first bowl appearance since being hit with the "Death Penalty" in 1984, a 45-10 outright win over Nevada as 12-point underdogs in the Hawaii Bowl. The Mustangs ended a 17-game losing streak to BCS schools last week with a 35-21 win over Washington State here at home. They did not cover as huge 23.5-point favorites. That 17-game losing skid went all the way back to the 2000 season. QB Kyle Pardon threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns - three to Aldrick Robinson - and ran for a fifth for the Mustangs, who scored 21 straight second-half points to snap a 14-14 tie.

Pardon has at least two touchdown passes in all three games and eight overall. The sophomore has not thrown an interception in SMU's two wins after being picked off three times in its 35-27 season-opening loss to Texas Tech as 12.5-point underdogs. That ATS win improved Jones' team to an outstanding 8-1 ATS the last nine times they've been getting points. They have not beaten a ranked opponent outright since beating TCU, 21-10, as 14-point home pups back in 2005.

Another betting trend to consider is that TCU has gone Under the total in seven straight road games when facing a foe with a winning record.

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