Breaking it down: TCU vs. Minnesota
Who: No. 2 TCU vs. Minnesota
When: Thursday, 8 p.m. CT
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota
Spread: TCU -14.5
Matchup to Watch: Trevone Boykin vs. Minnesota secondary
Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray have repeatedly said that they don’t feel respected. How do you earn serious respect? Shut down a Heisman candidate and stun the No. 2 team in the country. That will be easier said than done against the high-powered TCU offense. What makes Boykin so tough to stop is that the big-armed senior is also one of the country’s most mobile quarterbacks. He can be effective in or out of the pocket, but the more pressure Theiren Cockran and the Gopher line can generate, the more pressure it’ll put on Boykin to test Boddy-Calhoun and Murray. That’s what the Gophers need to hang around.
Thing I’m excited to see: Chris Streveler’s role
While Big Ten fans have heard all summer about an Ohio State quarterback’s switch to receiver, a Gopher did the same thing. Sort of. Backup quarterback Chris Streveler has spent time working out at a variety of spots in fall camp to help Minnesota’s inexperienced group of skill players. We might see Streveler at receiver, or H-back or tight end. Jerry Kill likened him to a Tim Tebow-like guy. The sophomore has impressed in scrimmages and could play a swiss army knife role in Minnesota’s offense.
Number to Remember: 5
That’s how many times Minnesota turned the ball over against TCU last year. The Gophers gave one of the nation’s best offenses short fields, something they can’t afford to do on Thursday. It marked the worse start of Mitch Leidner’s career and was really the only bad showing the Gophers had all of 2014. TCU thrived off of turnovers last year. According to Athlon Sports, the Horned Frogs’ +16.5 difference in expected turnover margin vs. actual turnover margin was tops in college football. That isn’t to say they were just a lucky team. They’ll likely be the toughest test Leidner and Co. will face all season. But if they can can control the ball — and the clock — the Gophers will stand a much better chance against one of the nation’s best.
Prediction: TCU 30, Minnesota 21
In my defense, a nine-point loss would still be the Gophers covering the spread. And I do think the Minnesota is better prepared offensively to not look as one-dimensional against the stout TCU defense. The Gophers will put up a better fight at home than they did in Fort Worth last year, but Boykin will still lead the Horned Frogs to a hard-fought win in Minneapolis.