Last season TCU soundly defeated Minnesota 30-7. It was a statement. This wasn’t the same TCU team from 2013. They were here to contend for the Big 12. Minnesota went on to win eight games and play for a division title on the last week of the season. In just two days these two teams meet again, and this time Minnesota will be looking to send a message of their own.
DATE & TIME: Thursday, Nov 3rd @ 8:00 PM CST
WHERE: TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, MN)
FORECAST: Mostly Fair, South Wind 7-12 mph, Game Temp 82°F
TV: ESPN / WatchESPN
BETTING LINE: TCU -14.5 (O/U 57.5)
TCU Horned Frogs
2014 was a banner year for Gary Patterson’s team. After clawing their way to the big boy table, TCU won a share of the Big 12 title and finished the season by trailor-park-slapping Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
Last year was eye-opening for a program that had won just 11 games in the previous two years, and was breaking in a new offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham. The Frogs open the season #2 in the country and return most of their offensive arsenal. 2015 should be a wild ride for purple clad boys from Fort Worth.
TCU Players To Watch
Trevone Boykin – Boykin lit the college football world ablaze last season completing 61% of his passes for 3,901 yards and accounting for 41 total TD’s. He comes into 2015 as a Heisman frontrunner and point man for one of the most prolific offenses in the country.
Aaron Green – A home run hitter befitting the Horned Frogs’ explosive attack, Green is a threat to break the big one every time he touches the ball. Last year Green averaged 7.1 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns. He’ll take on more of the load this year, and could become a household name.
Davion Pierson – Pierson anchors a unit that will be called upon to stuff Minnesota’s rugged run game. Look for Pierson to stuff the middle and create havoc for Mitch Leidner and the Golden Gophers’ offense.
TCU’s Keys To The Game
Get Tough Defensively – The Gophers are stout, blue-collar, lunch pail type of group. They are super physical and play with an edge. The Frogs must match that intensity and be stout against the Gopher run game. 60% of the Minnesota offense last year was on the ground. The good news is that 1600 yard rusher David Cobb is in the NFL and there are no game-breakers on the outside.
Third down – Minnesota makes their bones by keeping drives alive with manageable 3rd downs. By doing this, they keep possession and their defense off the field. It’s all part of their grand scheme for success. The solution is simple, keep Minnesota behind the chains. If TCU can win the 3rd down battle defensively, the Gophers are dead in the water.
Keep The Foot On The Gas – Should TCU jump out on the Gophers, it’s imperative for the Frogs to put Minnesota away. Jerry Kill teams win plenty of games by hanging around and lulling their opponent to sleep.
What Horned Frog Nation Wants To See
TCU fans are foaming at the mouth for this season to begin. 2015 is loaded with promise and the potential matches that promise. This team has the look of a National Title contender. With that in mind Frog fans should expect an absolute thrashing of a good, but not great Minnesota squad. The Horned Frogs just need to go out and handle their business.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
I must admit, I have tremendous respect and admiration for the job Jerry Kill has done at Minnesota. Kill has battled program limitations, difficult circumstances, and his own health on the way to respectability. Their overall talent level won’t get confused for Ohio State anytime soon, but every time a team lines up against the Gophers, they had better be prepared for a dog fight. They do it with toughness, grit and a workmanlike approach.
Minnesota Players To Watch
Mitch Leidner – The best term for Leidner is bus driver. He doesn’t possess the passing acumen, nor the receivers, to light anyone up. He’s fairly adept to running the zone read, but nobody will confuse him for his counterpart Boykin. Leidner must be substantially better in 2015 with the departure of David Cobb and top receiver Maxx Williams for this team to achieve some of the expectations that exist. He’s a player to watch, because he needs to be able to manage the game, and keep the defense rested.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun – This All-Big Ten corner will have his hands full Thursday night. Boddy-Calhoun will be tough to shake for whichever Frog weapon he’s covering. He’s a ballhawk, and earned five interceptions last year. Get a good look at him, he will be playing on Sundays soon enough. It’s just too bad Minnesota can’t clone him.
Theiren Cockran – If the Gophers have any chance at all, they must harass Boykin. That means Cockran must manhandle the man across from him and make things difficult for #2 in purple.
Minnesota’s Keys To The Game
Move The Sticks – If Minnesota has any chance to defeat TCU it lies on their ability to hold the ball and keep that insane TCU offense off the field. That means converting time and time again. In the Gophers’ three biggest wins last year (Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan) they piled up 20 or more first downs. It will take the same diligent effort this time around.
Win Turnover Battle – One area the Golden Gophers do an outstanding job in is winning the turnover battle. Only three times in 2014 did they lose that battle and six times they were +2 or greater. There’s nothing like getting a turnover or two to swing momentum, and the Gophers are at such a disadvantage athletically, they’re going to them.
Get To Boykin – If Trevone Boykin has time to move around and make decisions, it’s night night for the Gophers. Minnesota must find a way to make him uncomfortable, whatever the cost. If that mean blitzes from all over, so be it. Watch for the Gophers to blitz from the bleachers Thursday night.
What Golden Gopher Nation Wants To See
Minnesota fans should look for little victories. Are they able to move the ball? How does the defensive line look? Are there any glaring breakdowns? That sort of thing. Minnesota will be a fine team this year. They will be a thorn in the side of most of the opponents on their schedule. A win is unlikely, but Gopher fans should be encouraged with a strong performance. If they show that they can be competitive, winning the Big Ten West isn’t out of reach.
Prediction For The Game
Crazy things tend to happen on Thursday nights under the lights, but the Frogs are just too focused. They’re going to throw the Gophers around and start making their case for the CFB Playoff early. There simply isn’t enough athleticism on Minnesota’s defense to compete with the likes of Aaron Green, Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee. In that way this is a bad matchup. The boys from Fort Worth will roll into the Twin Cities and walk out with a sizable victory over a good, but not great, Gopher team.