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SMU backs up bold claims, runs all over TCU to win Battle for the Iron Skillet

The Mustangs rushed for 350 yards in the win and gave themselves a credibility boost amidst realignment.

FORT WORTH — If fortune favors the bold, let the words of Rashee Rice serve as an example.

There wasn’t any bait to take — just a simple question about what the rivalry meant to him — but Rice leaped out of the water, landed on a dock in Fort Worth and snatched the bait out of the tackle box anyway, doing so with a bravado that drew the ire of Horned Frogs everywhere.

“Personally, I don’t think the rivalry is ever going to change,” Rice said on Monday. “It’s always going to be Dallas vs. Fort Worth, but no one comes to Texas for Fort Worth. They come for Dallas.”

And now the skillet is coming back to Dallas with him and the rest of the Mustangs.

SMU, known for its prolific pass attack, took to the ground against TCU’s defense, rushing for 350 yards to win the Battle for the Iron Skillet 42-34. It was SMU’s second straight win on the road against TCU, marking the first time since the NCAA death penalty rocked the program that SMU has accomplished that feat.

“Both teams consider themselves Dallas, so it means a lot to win this game,” said SMU wide receiver Danny Gray, a former TCU pledge who finished with four catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. “It means a lot to dominate at home and dominate in the state of Texas.”

Speaking of dominant, SMU’s rushing attack looked the part for most of Saturday’s game. Ulysses Bentley IV had 20 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, while senior Tre Siggers — a North Texas transfer new to the rivalry game — had 18 carries for 112 yards. SMU averaged 6.7 yards per carry and finished with 350 yards rushing.

“Coming in I didn’t think we’d run for 350 yards, and that was obviously the difference in the ball game,” said SMU coach Sonny Dykes. “We ran it when they knew we were going to run it, and that was a big deal.”

That was the case late in the game. TCU quarterback Max Duggan threw a touchdown pass to Taye Barber to make it an eight-point game with 4:05 left. TCU had two timeouts, and in a game featured over 1,000 combined yards, the best way to seal a SMU win would be to not surrender the ball. SMU did that with first down runs from Siggers, Tyler Lavine and quarterback Tanner Mordecai.

The win gave SMU its third-straight 4-0 start under Dykes. The win, on the road against a team from a conference SMU has sought to join, also gave the Mustangs a credibility boost amidst realignment.

“We just came into a Big 12 house — a good Big 12 team; they’re not a bottom of the pack Big 12 team — and we played really well against them,” said Mordecai, who had five total touchdowns Saturday and now has 20 touchdown passes on the season. “We executed on all levels.”

After the win, Rice — a Richland High School alum who had a touchdown on Saturday — sprinted toward the south endzone and grabbed a white Triple D SMU flag. He then sprinted directly to midfield, where he hoped to plant the flag on TCU’s logo. A small skirmish ensued and the attack on TCU’s logo was stopped, until SMU corner Brandon Crossley picked up the flag and finished the job just minutes later.

Dykes said he wasn’t sure what exactly happened amidst the postgame celebration. He said if his players did plant the flag, he apologized, adding that “there’s nobody in the world that has more respect” for TCU head coach Gary Patterson, and what the Horned Frogs coach has built in Fort Worth, than he.

Dykes also said he hadn’t talked to Rice about his Monday comments before the Iron Skillet, but he planned to after the game.

“That’s always a learning experience,” Dykes said.

But Rice was confident heading into Saturday’s game. Dykes and Mordecai said the entire team felt that way. So Rice decided to be bold, and the Mustangs backed it up.

Find more SMU coverage from The Dallas Morning News here

Joseph Hoyt, Staff Writer. Joseph covers SMU, college sports and the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News. Previously he covered high school sports for The News. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2016, Joseph interned at The News before working for The Ames Tribune and KOIN-TV in Portland. He returned to The News in Nov. 2018.

joseph.hoyt@dallasnews.com /JosephHoytDMN @joejhoyt
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