The first game of your favorite team's college football season creates a special kind of excitement. For me this is doubly true because this is the first season/home opener I've attended since Air Force in 2009. That's crazy to for me to think about but it's true. I don't feel nervous about the outcome because win or lose I'm just happy it's football season and happy that I get to watch Minnesota under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium again.
The Gopher gnomes have an important message. THERE IS A TCU GNOME TWITTER ACCOUNT. It has a movie trailer.
The Gopher gnomes are saddened that they didn't get to Twitter first. Clearly they did not realize that the profit potential in getting into the social media game. For this they apologize. They seek your forgiveness and understanding as they look to build their #BRAND in the future.
As for the #TAKES? The Gopher gnomes have no hate for TCU. After all, FOW is fun and did they mention TCU fans put a gnome on Twitter? The Gopher gnomes are concerned that TCU fans are proud of this though.
WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT'S SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE? DEMONS DO THIS SORT OF THING! SUPPORTING DEMONIC REPTILES IS A BAD IDEA!
Kickoff Time: 8 PM CST
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Streaming Video: WatchESPN
Radio: Kool 108 (107.9 in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates).
Streaming Audio: Locate Kool 108 on IHeartRadio.com (or the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device)
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 84; Sirius 84; XM 84
Spread: TCU by 14.5 to 15, depending on the site
Over/Under: 57 to 58.5, depending on the site
It will be humid, so add 5-8 degrees on to those temperatures in heat index, at least until late in the game/evening.
Where Are They From?
Fort Worth, TX
All Time Series: Minnesota is 1-1 all time against TCU.
Last Season: 12-1 (8-1 Big 12) - TCU was good. DAMN good. They took care of Minnesota without issue in game three and were a loss to Baylor (or a Big 12 Title Game existing) away from a CFB Playoffs appearance. In retribution for this slight, they demolished Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Their offense was explosive. Their defense was fierce. Let's really hope they don't open this season the way the finished the last one.
2014 To Date: All the players have signed on to an Illuminati conspiracy.
Using "Remember The Titans" to speak of Minnesota? THOSE ARE FIGHTING WORDS! I'm mobile, agile, and hostile about this motivational poster!
Head Coach: Gary Patterson is 132-45 (82-31 WAC/CUSA/MWC/Big 12) in his 15 years leading the TCU Horned Frogs. He's also noted for using Joel Maturi to get him a nice salary bump following the 2006 season and for running a style of defense that is both unique and effective.
Players To Watch:
1) Trevone Boykin (QB - Senior): Heisman favorite whose athletic play electrified college football last season.
From our TCU Season Preview:
He will be a preseason favorite to win the Heisman, and for good reason as he racked up 3901 yards through the air with 33 touchdowns. Of course there were the 10 interceptions to go with them...so he can be a bit careless at times. Boykin is a threat on the ground though. He ran for an additional 829 yards and 8 TDs last season. Running back Aaron green will be another threat. He led TCU with 922 yards and nine TDs last season, fumbling only once in 130 carries.
Kolby Listenbee is the fire to Josh Doctson’s ice. Perhaps one of the most underrated players in all of college football, and literally the fastest, Listenbee has only gotten better since we first saw a glimpse of him against Michigan State nearly four years ago. The pseudo-Hail Mary that Boykin and Listenbee loved so much last year still misfired at times despite Listenbee having his man beat by multiple steps. Not only should we expect the kinks of that killshot to be worked out in 2015, but even more promising, expect it to be the signature play of the offense; the one the fans, the talking heads, and the casual fan all covet, anticipate, and eagerly await like an unopened present.
Could they not get theirs? I'd prefer it if they didn't get theirs this one game.
3) Run Defense: TCU is know for it's total team defense more than it's known for any one player. An often overlooked part of that defense is it's success at stopping the run well despite using a 4-2-5 scheme. How the TCU defense does against the run after losing both of it's starting linebackers, it's best defensive linemen, and one of it's two best safeties will be important in determining the outcome of tomorrow night's game:
So how much of this was because of the line, and how much was because of incredible linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet? It's a chicken vs. egg debate -- the line cleared the way for the linebackers to make plays, and the linebackers wrecked shop far beyond what a 4-2-5 linebacking corps is supposed to. And safeties Derrick Kindred and Chris Hackett did a nice job of playing both near to and far from the line of scrimmage.
Kindred's back, as are all but one lineman. Ends James McFarland and Mike Tuaua made for an active duo, and Nebraska transfer Aaron Curry joins senior Davion Pierson at tackle. But only one returning linebacker had more than six tackles, and in the post-spring depth chart, three of the top four linebackers were either true or redshirt freshmen. If he maintains his spot on the two-deep, the first play of Mike Freeze's career will be as the starting middle linebacker for a top-10 team. Considering the impact last year's LBs had, that's pretty scary.
I'm betting TCU is still mighty stout on defense, including run defense. But I also expect TCU to offer Minnesota chances that the Gophers have to seize.
Keys To The Game
- No turnovers: TCU is the better team without question. Even with home field, I don't think the Gophers can win this game losing the turnover battle. I'd argue that they can't win turning the ball over at all but that feels too pessimistic and ignores the fact that Minnesota's defense should not be overlooked either. The lesson from last season is still clear though...turnovers kill you against TCU.
- Field position, field position, field position: The other clear lesson from last season is that a short field helps guarantee TCU points. TCU is definitely going to score on Minnesota via some very long drives too. They're too talented not to. But Minnesota's defense has always has a bit of "bend don't break" under Tracy Claeys and the extra yards should help the Gophers minimize the impact of big plays (provided they don't allow too many).
- We need Michigan/Mizzou Mitch: Without a passing game the Gophers are toast. I don't think the Gophers need 60%+ completion/no turnover Mitch to get wins in every game this season, but they need that Mitch to get a win against TCU.
How Afraid Am I?
For those who don't know, this is a bit where I rank my fear by saying how many Tim Brewsters I am afraid of the opponent. The more Tim Brewsters I list, the more afraid I am...because the memory of Timmy Brew is scary for all Gophers fans. Typically this is done on a scale of 1 to 5 "Brewsters on his face" in the Metrodome. Not today though.
4 Brews Deep Fried On A Stick
I'm 4 Brewsters deep fried on a stick afraid of TCU.
Another departure from the historic "Brew Flat On His Face" Fear Scale. But in addition to being excited about the TCU game I'm excited about going to the Minnesota State Fair for the first time since 2004 on Friday. As excited as I may be, I know how many ways this game could go wrong. Thus the 4 Brews. An upset is possible, the Gophers keeping it close feels likely to me, but still, there is a lot that could go poorly.
Completely Worthless Prediction
I'm playing it straight. Minnesota keeps it close through 2.5 quarters before TCU pulls away.
TCU 34 - Minnesota 20