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Texan Battle of the Iron Skillet Might Fizzle Out

Battle of the Iron Killet — SMU-TCU
© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University football programs have clashed more than 100 times in a rivalry known as the Battle of the Iron Skillet. However, with SMU joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, the future of the rivalry series could be in jeopardy. The Mustangs and Horned Frogs are not scheduled to play one another after the 2025 season.

Conference Realignment Fallout

Rivalry games are part of the fabric of college football. Realignment risks fraying, if not tearing, that fabric. Although economic and other factors drive realignment, consideration ought to be given to preserving historic rivalries where possible. Indeed, college football would not be the same without traditional matchups such as the nation's top intersectional annual rivalry game between USC and Notre Dame, the yearly intrastate clash between Oregon and Oregon State formerly known as the "Civil War" and the showdown between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State aptly dubbed "Bedlam."

The long-time Thanksgiving weekend tradition of Texas playing Texas A&M was put on hold when the Aggies moved into the Southeastern Conference in 2021. Is the SMU-TCU rivalry destined for a similar fate?

Battle of the Iron Skillet — SMU vs. TCU
© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Quest for the Iron Skillet

The campuses of SMU and TCU are separated by less than 50 miles. Both universities are in the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex, with SMU in Dallas and TCU in Fort Worth.

Since 1915, there have been only seven years in which TCU and SMU did not meet. Those missed games were attributable to historical matters such as World War I, the NCAA's imposition of the death penalty upon SMU and the COVID pandemic.

Over the course of the series, TCU has won 53 games, SMU has won 42, and there have been 7 ties.

Battle of the Iron Skillet — SMU and TCU Mascots
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The proximity of the two schools is part of what makes the rivalry such a special one. The players and fans of the two teams live close together. Many went to high school together. In addition to proximity, the rivalry is fueled by the prowess of both teams and their players over the decades.

Legendary Players

The century-long rivalry between SMU and TCU has featured numerous iconic, Hall-of-Fame players on both sides.


All-time great Mustangs include:

  • Doak Walker: 1948 Heisman Trophy winner, 1986 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

  • Kyle Rote: 1964 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and in the New York Giants Ring of Honor

  • Don Meredith: first-team All-American in 1958 and 1959 and in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor

  • Eric Dickerson: 1982 unanimous All-American, 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

Doak Walker
© Detroit Free Press


Decorated Horned Frogs include:

  • Davey O'Brien: 1938 Heisman winner, NFL All-Pro in 1939

  • Sammy Baugh: 1936 consensus All-American, 1963 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

  • Bob Lilly: 1960 unanimous All-American, 1980 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

  • LaDainian Tomlinson: 2000 Doak Walker Award winner, 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

Sammy Baugh
© Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports

SMU and TCU meet this year on Sept. 21 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

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