There’s something obligating and pressuring about being the preseason #2 ranked team. TCU handled the pressure well with a 23-17 win in Minnesota, as Trevone Boykin did a very good job of handling the expectations with a touchdown throw and run.
It wasn’t easy. TCU might be expected to put up huge offensive numbers this season, but the Minnesota defense gave them a very hard time, including intercepting the Heisman hopeful Boykin. The 23 points were their fewest scored since Nov. 9, 2013, in a 21-17 victory over Iowa State, after averaging 46.5 points per game and sharing the Big 12 title last season.
The matchup between coaching friends (Jerry Kill and Gary Patterson) was one they both preferred avoiding. Despite the importance of strength of schedule in the CFP selections, both prefer using the Kansas State method of scheduling nonconference opponents: Easy teams for easy wins, and leave the complicated stuff for the conference games.
Boykin threw for 246 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He ran for 92 yards and a score, while Aaron Green helped on the ground with 88 yards. Mitch Leidner threw one touchdown pass for Minnesota, but it came with just 1:32 left in the game. TCU recovered the onside kick and held on to the ball until the dying moments of the game. Rodney Smith ran for 88 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers kept chasing TCU in this game, never having enough quality on offense to really make a difference.
It was expected that Leidner would struggle. He lost Maxx Williams and David Cobb to the draft, his two best offensive weapons. Boykin wasn’t great, but looked sharp compared to the Minnesota junior, especially after getting over some early jitters. Maybe some time will make it easier for Leidner, but Minnesota will probably rely on defense to get them somewhere this season.
The TCU defense looked good, forcing five punts on the first six possessions. If anything is going to be a problem for the Horned Frogs this season, it’s that side of the ball after losing six of their top seven tacklers from last year’s unit, while sack leader James McFarland and senior defensive tackle Davion Pierson didn’t play for mysterious reasons. The other possession? Forcing fumble out of Leidner and setting up Boykin’s touchdown pass.