FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Shane Buechele threw for 288 yards with two touchdowns and ran for another score as SMU held on to beat No. 25 TCU 41-38, ending a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry and improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1984.
The Mustangs went ahead to stay after jumping ahead 15-0 in less than 10 minutes. Their last 4-0 start came when TCU and SMU were Southwest Conference rivals, and not long before crippling sanctions led to the NCAA’s so-called death penalty when the Mustangs didn’t even field a team in 1987 and 1988.
TCU true freshman quarterback Max Duggan’s third touchdown pass of the second half came with 3:37 left. The Frogs got the ball back a minute later after a three-and-out by SMU, including a snap that Buechele wasn’t ready for that resulted in a 23-yard loss.
But after TCU coach Gary Patterson opted against trying a 51-yard field goal attempt, Duggan’s fourth-down pass never had a chance and SMU ran out the clock.
Xavier Jones ran for 79 yards with a touchdown, and caught a 3-yard TD early in the fourth quarter for a 38-24 lead. That ended an 84-yard drive that started when TCU running back Sewo Olonilua lined up in wildcat formation on fourth-and-1 and was sacked for a 6-yard loss when he looked to pass.
Olonilua fumbled at TCU’s 4 in the first quarter, giving SMU the ball back right after Buechele was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1. That set up a 1-yard TD run by Jones.
Buechele, the former Texas quarterback who is one of seven graduate transfers for SMU, was 22-of-34 passing. He had gone 0-2 against TCU while with the Longhorns.
On the same play Buechele had a pass intercepted in the end zone in the second quarter, the helmet of an SMU offensive lineman was apparently ripped off his head by a defender and heaved about 20 yards down the field. Second-year Mustangs coach Sonny Dykes, an offensive analyst for Patterson, was livid that no penalty was called.
Darius Anderson broke free for a 77-yard run on the next play, setting up his 3-yard TD to get TCU within 18-14. Anderson finished with 19 carries for 161 yards and two scores.
SMU: The Mustangs had lost the last seven in the series by an average margin of four touchdowns. Buechele has two big receivers in James Proche (10 catches, 66 yards, one touchdown) and Reggie Roberson Jr. (four catches, 122 yards), a former transfer from West Virginia.
TCU: Duggan finished 16-of-36 passing for 188 yards, with two TDs to Pro Wells, after going 1 of 10 for 22 yards before halftime in his first start. Graduate transfer Alex Delton started the first two games. The Frogs were coming of a three-touchdown road win against Big Ten team Purdue, and had allowed only 209.5 total yards per game.
TCU will fall out of the Top 25, a week after getting ranked and making it 15 seasons in a row to appear in the poll. SMU didn’t get any votes in the AP poll last week, and hasn’t been ranked since 1986.
SMU plays its American Athletic Conference opener at USF next Saturday.
TCU stays at home next Saturday to open Big 12 Conference play against Kansas.