NCAA Football: SMU Mustangs vs. TCU Horned Frogs Preview, Prediction & Odds - Sept. 25, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: Noon ET, Sept. 25, 2021
Venue: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
Where to watch: FS1

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: TCU -10; O/U 64; TCU -380, SMU +290
BetMGM: TCU -10.5; O/U 63.5; TCU -400, SMU +325
Caesars: TCU -10; O/U 64; TCU -420, SMU +320

Season record
SMU: 3-0
TCU: 2-0

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SMU - TCU preview and analysis

Recent form
SMU: won 39-37 at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 18
TCU: won 34-32 vs. Cal on Sept. 11

Why is it always the teams in Texas that aren’t, well, Texas that are actually good?

The better question should be, why have we spent so much time parading the schools in Texas that aren’t good? When we should be discussing the ones that are good?

You know, like the SMU Mustangs and TCU Horned Frogs. Programs that have been good the last decade that actually make college football exciting to watch. The two will meet Saturday for a noon kickoff in Fort Worth in the 100th battle for the Iron Skillet.

Not only is it going to be a matchup of good schools in the state of Texas, but it’s a battle of undefeated teams with TCU entering as double-digit favorites. But the biggest difference between these two teams is the quarterback play.

SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai is averaging 341 passing yards per game through three games and has thrown an astounding 16 touchdowns to only two interceptions. You shouldn’t expect anything different from a Sonny Dykes-coached team. TCU’s defense is in for a tough challenge against a Mustangs team that may be more dangerous than before now that Mordecai, a junior transfer from Oklahoma, has clearly been held back.

But you know things are going right when a Hail Mary gives you the win at the buzzer. SMU is coming off a 39-37 win over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs that ended on a heave from Mordecai to Reggie Roberson Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown. While Mordecai was stellar in throwing for 395 yards and five touchdowns, the pass defense of SMU allowed 351 yards and four touchdowns from La Tech quarterback Austin Kendall.

If you’re TCU head coach Gary Patterson, you could see some holes in the SMU defense for quarterback Max Duggan to take advantage of, especially with an extra week to prepare. Duggan threwfor 234 yards and three touchdowns in a narrow 34-32 win over the California Golden Bears.

TCU’s offense is more well-rounded by averaging 224.5 rushing yards per game as opposed to 193 from SMU. While TCU’s defense has allowed less than 200 yards passing through two games, but this air attack will be a test not yet seen on its end.


We’re torn on this one, because TCU has always been a hard place to play at. But if there was ever a time to believe in SMU, it might be now. A win in September really isn’t going to be the end-all, be-all of how these seasons unfold, but there’s so much intrigue with SMU to win this game that we’ll hop on the bandwagon. SMU by 3

Betting trends

SMU is 2-2 in its last 4 against the spread as an underdog, but 8-1 ATS following non-conference games.

TCU is 11-4 straight up in its last 15 games as a favorite.

Players to watch

SMU: Mordecai can spread the ball to everyone at will, and that includes Rashee Rice. He caught two touchdowns to go along with 73 yards on four catches.

TCU: Beware of Zach Evans if the Frogs get that running game going. Evans ran for 190 yards and a touchdown on just 22 carries against Cal.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Tanner Mordecai -- 1,023 yards, 16 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Ulysses Bentley IV -- 250 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Danny Gray -- 228 yards, 4 TD
Defense: Isaiah Nwokobia -- 2 INT

Passing: Max Duggan -- 441 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Zach Evans -- 217 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Quentin Johnston -- 133 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson -- 1 INT

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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