Pick with Analysis
The college football season officially kicks off Thursday night with playoff-hopeful TCU travelling to Minnesota. We’ll get a first look at just how good this Horned Frog offense can be, but this matchup will be far from easy against a feisty Gophers squad. That said, TCU is still a -17 point favorite on the road, as seen at 5 Dimes.
The Horned Frogs had one of the best offenses in the nation last season scoring 46.5 points per Game and they return 10 starters to that group including Heisman frontrunner Trevone Boykin. There’s no reason why this offense can’t match or surpass last season’s success with experienced seniors filtering the unit, outside of a sophomore starting at right tackle.
These teams met last year in Fort Worth before anyone thought much of TCU, and the Horned Frogs walked away with a solid 30-7 win. They opened the Game with 30-straight points and that was the end of that as Minnesota’s offense struggled as they did through much of the season. However, it should be noted that the Gophers played stout defense, even though they gave up 30 points. Minnesota’s offense turned it over five times, which led to all six of TCU’s scoring drives coming in at 51 yards or less. That’s a pretty significant stat.
Boykin managed to go 27-of-46 for 258 yards, while rushing for 92 yards on the ground. No one else on TCU could do much, as their next highest rusher was Aaron Green with 28 yards. Granted at that point, the Horned Frogs were still figuring out their identity and they eventually improved to a top offense, but it didn’t seem like it in that Game.
One question for them coming into this year will be on the defensive end, where they only return five starters with a linebacking core and secondary that is almost completely new. LUckily for them, Minnesota still doesn’t present much offensively.
The Gophers eventually put in an 8-5 season after falling in that Game to TCU last season. One thing in their favor this year is eight returning starters on both offense and defense. Their defense will be the most important piece in this Game considering TCU’s offense. After stifling the Horned Frogs last season, it wouldn’t be surprising for them to give TCU some troubles in the early going. The Gophers strength lies in the secondary where they have Four seniors returning, but also multiple playmakers in the front seven.
The problem for Minnesota will again be on offense where Mitch Leidner returns at quarterback. He finished 12-of-26 for three interceptions in the 2014 matchup. But with a full season under his belt and an offensive line that remains intact, many believe that Leidner can take on a bigger role this season. The Gophers averaged 2.5 yards per carry in last year’s Game, so improving on that will be important with Rodrick Williams Jr, who takes over as the leading running back.
A lot of people are assuming this will be an easy win for TCU, but Minnesota will undoubtedly be pumped for this season-opening night Game on a Thursday on national TV. This Gopher team battled at home against Ohio State last year and could easily do the same against the Horned Frogs. If Leidner shows some improvement, watch out for the Gophers to at least get the cover with a stout defense that could cause TCU’s offense some discomfort.
Our Pick – Had these two squared off in January of last season, Our Score Prediction model says TCU would have won by a score of 39-21. However, when you factor in that Minny returns a healthy number of starters on both sides of the ball to go along with the high emotion atmosphere with the Gophers playing a home opener ESPN night Game, there might be room for a cover here. Dare we say upset? Minnesota +17 – This is NOT a Key Release. ***Note – line hovering between 16.5 and 17 on Gameday. up from 14.5 when article 1st published