77F Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
While the final results have been favorable in TCU's last two games, neither contest began as planned.
It may not get much easier against surging SMU.
The 20th-ranked Horned Frogs look for a better start Saturday afternoon when they host the in-state rival Mustangs in a non-conference tilt.
TCU (3-1) looked sluggish early in victories over Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 17 and FCS opponent Portland State last Saturday, trailing each matchup after the first quarter.
The Horned Frogs didn't let those slow starts affect them. They scored the game's final 24 points after falling behind 17-14 to the Warhawks, then put up 55 straight last week after being down 3-0 through one quarter last weekend in a 55-13 victory.
Josh Boyce took a short pass from Casey Pachall 66 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to begin the rout in a victory that gave TCU its Mountain West Conference-record 22nd consecutive home victory.
"We felt it was going to take one big play to get us rolling and it did," said Pachall, who went 14 for 20 for 214 yards with three TDs. "Once we got the momentum, they weren't going to get it because we couldn't be stopped at that point."
The Rose Bowl champions' play in the first quarter, however, has been rather underwhelming the past two weeks. To coach Gary Patterson, getting off to a quick start comes down to one thing.
"Kids who are not confident have to become confident. Teams that are confident play faster," Patterson said. "Key to the story is you've got to get ready to go and play on that day."
That could be especially true against SMU (3-1), a matchup Patterson - 8-1 against the Mustangs - said is always emotional given the proximity between the schools.
SMU has outscored its last two opponents 82-7 after a 42-0 win over Memphis last Saturday. The Mustangs also have gotten off to quick starts, outscoring their last three opponents 75-10 in the first half.
J.J. McDermott threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns last week, and his 1,133 yards are 10th nationally.
"(SMU coach) June Jones' group is going throw balls on you. It's a matter of keeping them out of the end zone," Patterson said. "We've got to be ready for their best shot."
The TCU defense, though, has consistently improved since allowing 50 points and 564 total yards in its season-opening loss to Baylor. The Horned Frogs have allowed fewer total yards in each of their three games since, though their average of 397.3 per game is a far cry from a defense that surrendered a national-low 228.5 yards in 2010.
It may be tough to continue the trend against the Mustangs, who possess a strong running game led by Zach Line. The junior has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of four games, including 136 with three touchdowns against Memphis.
His 11 rushing TDs rank second in the country.
Line ran for 139 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown in a 41-24 loss to then-No. 4 TCU on Sept. 24, 2010. The 192 yards the Horned Frogs allowed in that game were nearly 100 more than they surrendered on average.
SMU, though, is minus-eight in the turnover department, giving it away 12 times - fifth-most in the nation. The Mustangs had four turnovers last week, something they won't want to repeat against TCU.
Pachall has thrown for 10 touchdowns while completing 69.2 percent of his passes, connecting with Boyce 25 times for 400 yards and three scores.
Waymon James rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown last week for an offense averaging 437.3 yards.
"We're explosive," Boyce said.
The Horned Frogs have won 10 of the last 11 matchups, including the last seven at home. SMU last beat TCU 21-10 on Sept. 10, 2005, and it last won in Fort Worth in 1993.