Date: Thursday, September 3
Time: 8:00 p.m. CT
Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota in 2014
The Gophers have improved steadily over the past several seasons under Jerry Kill, and 2014 was no exception. While their 8-5 record was identical to their record in 2013, they were notably better both defensively and offensively. The Gophers only slip up in the first seven games came against the Horned Frogs, which we'll cover more in a second. A four game winning streak after the loss to TCU included a big 30-14 victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor, only their second win against the Wolverines since 1987.
The Gophers fell on hard times in the second half of the season, dropping a game to less-than-good Illinois, before playing well against Ohio State and Wisconsin but coming up short. A win over Nebraska was sandwiched between the losses to the Buckeyes and Badgers, and it kept the Gophers in the Top 25 through the final weeks of the regular season, boosting TCU's resume in the process.
Minnesota's season ended with a loss to Missouri in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where a two point deficit turned into a 33-17 loss in the span of five minutes in the final quarter of play.
The Last Time They Played TCU
The Gophers and Horned Frogs faced off in TCU's second game of the 2014 season, and it was during this matchup that TCU fans started to realize that the new offense was the real deal. Trevone Boykin threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, both to Josh Doctson, while also rushing for 92 yards. In total, TCU's offense racked up 427 yards and 30 points, as the Horned Frogs cruised to a 30-7 victory.
Not to be outdone, TCU's defense forced five turnovers, with all three starting safeties, Chris Hackett, Sam Carter, and Derrick Kindred all intercepting passes thrown by Mitch Leidner, while Kindred and Paul Dawson also recovered fumbles.
The beating stuck with Minnesota for the rest of the season, causing one Gopher to exclaim that TCU was the best team they played all year, even after Ohio State won the National Championship.
The Gophers in 2015
Minnesota has some big question marks on offense as they enter the 2015 season, as they try to replace their leading rusher (David Cobb) and receiver (Maxx Williams) from the 2014 season. Bringing back dual-threat Mitch Leidner should ease the pain slightly, but he's going to need help if Minnesota wants to contend for the Big Ten West title again this season.
Replacing Cobb is no easy task, but there are several bodies available to share the load. Between Roderick Williams Jr., Berkley Edwards, and Jeff Jones the Gophers should prepared to have an above average running attack once again in 2015.
However, the loss of TE Maxx Williams stings, as the Gophers were really a one trick pony in their passing game in 2014. Williams led the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, accounting for around 30% of Minnesota's passing offense, and 67% of their receiving touchdowns.
Different Year, Same Result?
With the questions Minnesota has on offense, it wouldn't be surprising to see TCU beat Minnesota in similar fashion to 2014. However, TCU struggled on the road in 2014, scoring fewer points than at home (45.4 ppg vs. 47.8), and allowing more points to opposing teams on the road (26.2 ppg vs. 16.1). With a defense that will be breaking in six new starters, if Minnesota can take advantage early things could get interesting.
I personally don't see it being a large margin of victory for TCU, but I do see TCU winning.