FORT WORTH (AP) – TCU coach Gary Patterson this week was reflecting back to 2005, something he does every season when his 20th-ranked Horned Frogs are getting ready to play SMU.
The coach has an annual reminder for his players, most of whom were in elementary school at the time, about how the Frogs won their opener at No. 7 Oklahoma a dozen seasons ago — and then lost at SMU the next week. That was TCU’s only loss that year.
“That was the first thing that came out of his mouth,” quarterback Kenny Hill said.
“I told them the 2005 Oklahoma story,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to play every game. You can’t treat any of them different.”
On the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, SMU coach Chad Morris was flashing back even farther, to the 1980s.
“Obviously have a great opportunity in front of us,” said Morris, in his third season on the Hilltop. “To go over and get a win would be huge for our program.”
Both teams are 2-0. The Mustangs are trying to start 3-0 for the first time since 1984, which was before the program was shut down in 1987 and 1988 by crippling sanctions and the NCAA’s so-called death penalty. They had last started 2-0 in 2009.
Morris and some of his assistants even wore 1980s-era coaching gear this week, including the shorts well above the knee. Instead of the usual music at practice, players 1984 artists like Prince, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen.
“If you need something to get you ready for this game, you got problems,” SMU senior defensive end Justin Lawler said.
Patterson’s message might have more relevance this year with TCU fresh off a 28-7 win at Arkansas, another former Southwest Conference rival. Patterson knows it’s a “good win” that others may judge as a much bigger victory.
“The Arkansas game, put it out as the perception that was a big one … That happens, and everybody goes into a fury,” Patterson said. “And it usually carries over to (the players). I’m usually better off when people are telling my kids they’re not very good.”
Some other things to know for the 20th Frog and Pony show since the end of the SWC, with TCU winning 16 of 19 since then:
SMU has consecutive 50-point games to open a season for the first time in school history, joining Maryland and Kansas State as the only teams to do that this year. TCU has allowed only a single touchdown. The Frogs’ season-opening 63-0 win over Jackson State was their eighth shutout at home in 12 seasons.
With four TD catches last week, Courtland Sutton set a new American Athletic Conference record while matching a 39-year-old SMU mark. The 6-foot-4 junior had eight catches for 163 yards in that 54-32 win over North Texas. In last year’s game against the Frogs, Sutton had five catches for 113 yards.
“He’s big, he’s physical,” Patterson said. “He’s their marquee player and you can tell …. They try to get the ball in his hands as much as they can.”
Cornerback Jordan Wyatt, the lone returning starter from last season in SMU’s secondary, has already returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score. His four career defensive touchdowns match him for the most by an active FBS player and the most in school history.
While some of TCU’s players might not see the connection to the 2005 game, Patterson knows something they do understand.
“I think our kids relate more to, we were 6-7. They know the feeling of what it’s like to be 6-7,” Patterson said, referring to last season’s record.
The Mustangs lead the nation with 35 points off turnovers. They have forced five turnovers, and all led to touchdowns. TCU led only 6-3 at halftime in Dallas last season before going on to a 33-3 victory.
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