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SMU upsets No. 25 TCU, claims Iron Skillet for first time since 2011

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The Iron Skillet is heading back to Dallas for the first time in nearly a decade as one of the surprise stories of the early portion of the 2019 season has continued its unexpected winning ways — and at the expense of a rival for good measure.

The media had SMU pegged as the fourth-best team in the AAC South in its preseason poll; in his college football bible, Phil Steele had the Mustangs in third place in the division.  Saturday afternoon, however, SMU showed it should be a force to contend with in the conference race as it jumped out to a 31-17 halftime lead on No. 25 TCU and then held on for a 41-38 win over the Horned Frogs.

The win gives SMU, an eight-point underdog entering the game, possession of the Iron Skillet for the first time since 2011 and just the third time since 1998.

The 4-0 start is the program’s first since the Pony Express days of 1984; a win next week would match the 5-0 start of the ’83 squad.  Barring something unforeseen, the Mustangs will be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the 1986 season when the new poll is released Sunday afternoon.

Former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele passed for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.

Top nine unchanged in updated AP Poll; UCF moves into top 15

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Though there were a handful of upsets on Saturday but since most of those didn’t occur in the top 10, the bulk of the places near the top remained unchanged heading into Week 4.

In fact the only change was No. 11 Michigan and No. 10 Utah flipping places after the Wolverines had the weekend off ahead of their matchup against No. 13 Wisconsin. The Badgers were actually tied at that ranking with co-No. 13 Penn State as changes were few and far between from No. 14 on up.

One pleasant surprise was the continued ascent of UCF, which moved into the top 15 following the Knights destruction of a Stanford team ranked in the top 25 just two weeks ago.

Speaking of the Pac-12, the conference really dominated the AP Poll’s back half. No. 16 Oregon, No. 19 Washington State and No. 22 Washington were joined by No. 23 California and No. 24 Arizona State. The six schools from the league tied the SEC for most by one league — though it just meant a little bit more for the latter with No. 17 Texas A&M being the lowest ranked of that bunch.

TCU also debuted in the poll at No. 25 while Michigan State, USC and Maryland dropped out.

The full AP Top 25 heading into Week 4:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. LSU
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Ohio State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Auburn
  9. Florida
  10. Utah
  11. Michigan
  12. Texas
  13. Penn State/Wisconsin

15. UCF

16. Oregon

17. Texas A&M

18. Iowa

19. Washington State

20. Boise State

21. Virginia

22. Washington

23. California

24. Arizona State

25. TCU

Clemson still claims FBS-best winning streak at 16 straight, but who’s next at 10 in a row?

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The defending national champions continued its college football dominance in Week 1, while a fellow ACC school wrested the “top” spot for losing ways away from a Big Ten program.

With a woodshedding of Georgia Tech in the opener last Thursday night, Clemson extended its nation’s-best winning streak to 16 in a row. Clemson’s last loss? Against Alabama in one of the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals, a loss it avenged in the 2018 title tilt.

Just one other school has a current double-digit winning streak, and it likely who you wouldn’t immediately be thinking of as Army has won 10 in a row in a stretch that began the week after the service academy’s seven-point overtime loss to then-No. 5 Oklahoma Sept. 22 of last year. Extending that streak to 11 straight won’t be easy to say the least as Army travels to the Big House Saturday to face No. 7 Michigan.

Ohio State and Appalachian State will take seven-game winning streaks into next weekend’s action, while four schools (Florida, Stanford, Texas A&M, Wyoming) have won five in a row and another four (Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, TCU) have claimed four straight.

At the opposite end of the streaking spectrum is Louisville, which is the only program with a double-digit losing streak at 10. The UofL had the ignominious honor of unseating Rutgers, which had dropped 11 in a row prior to a win over UMass. It’s worth noting that RU still hasn’t beaten a Power Five schools since dropping Maryland in early November of 2017.

USF (seven); Akron and Colorado State (six); Coastal Carolina and Oregon State (five); and Kent State, Pitt and Texas State (four) are all in the midst of extended losing streaks as well.

In addition to Rutgers, UConn (nine in a row); Colorado, Georgia State — AGAINST TENNESSEE — and New Mexico (seven); and UTSA (six) all snapped lengthy losing streaks in Week 1.

One final note: A total of 65 of the 130 FBS teams have either won one game “in a row” (50) or will carry a one-game losing “streak” (15) into Week 2.

Ohio State transfer QB Matthew Baldwin has appeal granted by NCAA, can play for TCU this season

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It’s not often a coach can get help from a player he wasn’t expecting to play at all once the season has already begun but Gary Patterson surely won’t complain.

Following TCU’s season-opening win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday night, the Horned Frogs head coach informed the media that the NCAA has actually approved Ohio State transfer QB Matthew Baldwin’s appeal for immediate eligibility and that he’ll be available to suit up for the team in two weeks when they travel to Purdue.

TCU’s offense stalled out quite a bit inside the 20 against the FCS opponent in their opener, making seven trips to the red zone but settling for field goals on five of them. Perhaps Baldwin can help with that as he was initially part of the quarterback derby for the Frogs before the NCAA’s initial decision to deny him eligibility for 2019.

Baldwin never saw action with the Buckeyes during his brief stint in Columbus but has obvious upside as a former four-star prospect. He isn’t 100% just yet after offseason knee surgery but will provide added depth behind Kansas State graduate transfer Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan if nothing else.

Alex Delton to start at QB for TCU, but competition not over

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Alex Delton has won the first battle in TCU’s ongoing quarterback competition, but he has not won the war.

Frogs head coach Gary Patterson declared on Tuesday that the Kansas State graduate transfer will take the first snap for the Frogs’ opener Saturday versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but he will not take all the snaps. Delton edged out true freshman Max Duggan to win the job, but Duggan will still play.

In fact, Patterson said Duggan will take snaps in the first quarter on Saturday, calling him the “sixth man,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The TCU quarterback derby was an odd one, pitting graduate transfer Delton, true freshman Duggan, redshirt freshman Justin Rogers (who is still recovering from a drop-foot condition resulting from an injury that ended his high school career one game into his senior season), Mike Collins (a Penn transfer), Georgia transfer Matthew Downing and Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin, who is A) recovering from a shoulder injury and B) appealing the NCAA’s denial of his immediate eligibility waiver.

Delton was a team captain at Kansas State and immediately assumed a leadership position at TCU. While backing up Skylar Thompson a year ago, Delton completed 44-of-80 passes for 554 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing 85 times for 234 yards and two scores.