The cross-town rivalry game and Battle for the Iron Skillet is hours away. The Frogs look to keep DFW purple as they have won 16 of the last 18 matchups and haven’t lost to the Ponies since 2011. The Frogs are coming off a dominating 55-7 victory over Southern University last Saturday in the Carter. The Ponies look to rebound on the national stage after a disappointing 43-26 loss to North Texas. The heavily favored Frogs can’t hide from the Ponies. SMU has 2 coaches (Head Coach Sonny Dykes and Wide Receiver Coach David Gru) plus one graduate transfer player (Defensive End Paka Davis) that was on their sideline last year. Here are five players to watch in tonight’s game.
1. QB Shawn Robinson – TCU
Robinson threw touchdowns to three different playmakers and ran for two more scores in just one half last week. He didn’t turn the ball over, at all, and finished with a Quarterback Rating of 97.5.
The Ponies struggled in pass defense last week. They gave up 444 yards and three touchdowns to the Mean Green’s ariel attack. Robinson should be able to show off his arm and demonstrate exactly why he was one of the top quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school two years ago. He is no slouch running with the ball either. He scored on his only two running plays, from 9 and 36 yards.
2. DE Ben Banogu – TCU
Banogu was mostly quiet last week. Look for that to change tonight. Banogu likely would have been a first-round NFL draft pick this year and starting on Sunday, if he chose to go pro early. Luckily for Frog fans, he chose to stay, one more year, for some unfinished business in Ft. Worth. Let’s look at his collection of preseason honors.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, All-Big 12, Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award Watch List, Ted Hendricks Award Watch List, Wuerffel Trophy Watch List, and AFCA Good Works Team, Nominee.
They don’t hand those out to just anybody. Banogu can be an absolute nightmare for opposing teams. The Ponies offensive line struggled with pass protection last week. Banogu is primed to have one heck of a game.
3. QB Ben Hicks – SMU
Last year at TCU, Hicks was 17/37 with 305 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice. A week ago he was 12/24 with two touchdowns and one interception. Hicks needs to improve a lot from last week, the Ponies entered the fourth quarter with just two first downs.
Gary Patterson is a defensive mastermind but the Frogs have been vulnerable in the air the last few years. The Frogs ranked 70th in the nation in passing yards allowed in 2017. Last week the Frogs gave up a 55-yard touchdown pass to Southern in the second quarter.
4. WR James Proche – SMU
Number 3 for the Ponies is an offensive playmaker. The 5’11”, 190-pound junior was a four-star ESPN recruit coming out of DeSoto high school in 2014. He was third on the team with 40 catches for 816 yards and six touchdowns last year. He has had some success against TCU in the past. Look for the Ponies to try to get him involved early and often tonight.
5. The ‘do it all’ Boys from the Boot – TCU
Arguably the two most breathtaking players on the Frogs roster played their high school football in Louisiana, Senior KeVontae Turpin and Freshman Derius Davis. These guys are speed demons with video game type moves in the open field. Davis had a coming out party last week scoring two touchdowns while earning the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week Award. Turpin was tabbed preseason All-Big 12 and named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List. He finished with 108 total yards against Southern. The Ponies gave up a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Denton, last week.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas tonight. Coverage is on ESPN2. Go Frogs! Join the conversation at Killerfrogs.com.