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Into the Fire: Frogs will have chance to bring the Iron Skillet home after all

No Tennessee Tech, no problem, as TCU gets the Ponies to head West for the 100th edition of the Battle for the Iron Skillet.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 SMU at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 100th edition of the Battle for the Iron Skillet will happen in 2020 after all (maybe!), and TCU will have a chance to win the centennial battle on their home field.

TCU was originally scheduled to play SMU in Dallas on September 26th, but after the Big 12 announced that member teams would be allowed just one nonconference game — and it would have to be played on their home field — it seemed destined that the Iron Skillet would remain on the other side of the Metroplex for at least one more year.

The two programs met at the bargaining table, but with Tennessee Tech all but scheduled by that point, Jeremiah Donati wasn’t willing to meet Mustang AD Rick Hart’s demands at the times.

That changed Friday, when the Ohio Valley Conference announced that they would postpone their football season, and the Golden Eagles passed on a chance to play nonconference games this fall, the Frogs and Ponies met again and were able to work out the details and get one of college football’s oldest rivalries back on the schedule. “We want to thank TCU athletics director Jeremiah Donati and head coach Gary Patterson for re-engaging us when their schedule changed,” SMU athletic director Rick Hart said in a statement. “We are excited to continue this important rivalry, especially for our team and fans.”

The Mustangs were able to move their game with Stephen F. Austin back to allow the teams to meet on September 12th, two weeks prior to TCU’s first conference game, against Iowa State. They will play in Fort Worth for three straight years now, with all indications that they will resume normal programming, playing in Fort Worth again in 2021 before heading to Dallas in 2022.

“There continues to be a lot of uncertainty about the season, but I am thrilled we were able to continue our annual series with longtime rival SMU,” TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said. Frankly, I like the move, as opposed to tuning up with an FCS team, the Frogs will get a good game against a good opponent who is expected to be a contender in a strong conference. That’s what they need ahead of welcoming Brock Purdy and the Cyclones, a true contender in the Big 12 this fall.

Continuing the series also gives the Frogs the chance to win back the Iron Skillet after the Mustangs outlasted TCU last fall in Fort Worth, taking the trophy for just the third time in the Gary Patterson era. The Horned Frogs’ 99 meetings with the Mustangs trail only Baylor (115). Other than the two seasons (1987-88) SMU did not field a team, the 2006 campaign represented the only time the Horned Frogs and Mustangs have not met since 1925. The Horned Frogs hold a 51-41-7 edge over the Mustangs in a series that began with a 43-0 TCU win in Fort Worth in 1915. TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson is 15-3 versus SMU. TCU has won 11 of the last 13 games in the series and 17 of 20.

They will look to get back on track as they open an abbreviated, and likely strange, 2020 campaign.