Battle of the Iron Skillet: The century-old rivalry between TCU and SMU

The Horned Frogs and Mustangs have continued the Iron Skillet tradition for over a century. With just three series match-ups left, who will take home the prized trophy at this weekend’s rivalry game?

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TCU is the current holder of the Iron Skillet trophy. | Photo by Sharon Ellman/TCU Magazine

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One of the longest-standing college rivalry match-ups in Texas is upon us. Coach Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs (2-1) will face off against Rhett Lashlee and the SMU Mustangs (2-1) in the Battle for the Iron Skillet this Saturday, Sept. 23, at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

In honor of the big game, we’re diving into the spirit and tradition that has brought students, families, and alumni together for more than a century.

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This game program from 1928 was just 25 cents. | Photo provided by SMU

🍳 The Iron Skillet Trophy

The origin of the Iron Skillet remains a topic of debate between the two teams, but one thing the rivals can agree on is when the game originated. The first rivalry game was in 1946, nearly 30 years after the first meeting between TCU and SMU. But one story remains a mystery — the trophy itself.

TCU’s version: The skillet tradition started during the post-World War II era when college football was booming in popularity. In 1993, the student bodies from both universities set up rules for the traveling trophy, which became the Iron Skillet.

SMU’s version: An SMU fan fried frog legs as a joke before the game and an offended TCU fan suggested that the game should decide who would get the skillet and the frog legs. The skillet exchange eventually evolved into a long-standing tradition.

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This article from SMU’s newspaper was published on October 2, 2009. | Photo by SMU Libraries

🏈 The all-time record

The two teams have played each other in all but six seasons since their first meeting in 1915. TCU won the most recent game in 2022, with a 42-34 victory on SMU turf, and owns a 52-42-7 all-time lead in the Iron Skillet series.

Despite not being in the same conference, TCU and SMU have agreed to play each season through 2025 on an alternating home-and-away basis.

🎟️ Watch history be made

Kickoff is at 11 a.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Standing Room tickets are still available for $50 or you can watch the game from home on Fox Sports.

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