College Football Betting Selections: #2 TCU Horned Frogs at Minnesota Golden Gophers

#2 Texas Christian Horned Frogs at Minnesota Golden Gophers
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thursday, September 3, 2015, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: TCU -14
Current Line: TCU -17
Opening Total: 58 1/2
Current Total: 57 1/2
Opening Money Line: TCU -575 / Minnesota +464
Current Money Line: TCU -760 / Minnesota +588

TCU is a 17 point road favorite at Minnesota Thursday in the season opener for both schools.
TCU is a 17 point road favorite at Minnesota Thursday in the season opener for both schools.

A year after being snubbed for one of the four spots in the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs enter the 2015 season ranked #2 in both pre-season polls. TCU looks to get the season of on the right track as they travel to the Minnesota Golden Gophers Thursday night.

TCU, coached by Gary Patterson, went 11-1 last year and 8-1 in the Big 12. Only a wild 61-58  loss at Baylor prevented TCU from going undefeated and making the playoff. In that game, TCU led by 21 with 11 minutes to go but Baylor came back and kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. The Bears and Horned Frogs tied for first in the Big 12 but both teams were snubbed for the playoff. TCU would have to settle for a 42-3 rout of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.

Minnesota is coached by Jerry Kill. The Golden Gophers went 8-5 last year including 5-3 in the Big Ten West Division. The Golden Gophers entered the regular season finale against rival Wisconsin with a chance to win the division title and a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game. Minnesota would lose that game on the road 34-24. The Gophers ended up losing to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl 33-17.

This is the third meeting ever between TCU and Minnesota, and the series is tied 1-1. TCU won last year in Fort Worth 30-7. TCU dominated that game from start to finish. Only a late fourth quarter touchdown prevented the shutout. The Horned Frogs held the Gophers to 268 total yards with only 14 first downs. Minnesota had five turnovers in that game.

TCU was 11-2 ATS last year and the total was 8-5. Minnesota was 8-5 ATS and the total was 6-7 last year.

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Co-Offensive coordinators for TCU Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham installed the Air Raid offense last year. It worked as the Horned Frogs averaged 533 yards per game on offense including 326 passing yards, both in the top seven nationally. Even the rushing attack averaged 207 yards per game. TCU was #2 in scoring nationally at 46.5 points per game. Now 10 starters are back and the offense might even be more explosive if that is possible.

TCU allowed 342 yards per game on defense, including 233 passing and 109 rushing yards. TCU allowed 19 points a game. The Horned Frogs were in the top 20 nationally in all but pass defense. TCU was #3 nationally with a turnover over margin of +18.

Senior quarterback Trevone Boykin returns to run the offense and could be a Heisman contender if he stays healthy. Last year he completed 61.2% of his passes for 3,901 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and also rushed for 707 yards on 152 carries with 8 touchdowns. Senior Bram Kohlhausen is the back-up in case anything happens to Boykin. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill transferred to TCU but must sit out a season.

Senior running back Aaron Green didn’t start until November but still rushed for 922 yards on 129 carries with 9 touchdowns along with making 19 catches for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. He returns and should be at least a 1,000 yard rusher with full season. The Horned Frogs do have to replace B.J. Catalon who rushed for almost 500 yards and 10 touchdowns. Catalon also had 14 catches and a touchdown, plus a kick return for a touchdown. Nebraska transfer Shaun Nixon, Kyle Hicks and sophomore Trevorris Johnson will split the back-up carries. Johnson rushed for 302 yards and 4 touchdowns last season on 53 carries. Hicks rushed for 160 yards but made 12 catches last year.

Four of the top five receivers return for TCU, with the exception of David Porter now with the Broncos. Josh Doctson is the Z receiver and had 65 catches for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He is probable with a hand injury. Kolby Listenbee is the X receiver and made 41 catches for 753 yards and 4 touchdowns. H-Back Deante’ Gray made 36 catches for 582 yards and 8 touchdowns, and also rushed for 88 yards. He is doubtful with a knee injury. Y receiver Ty Slanina made 32 catches for 383 yards and 2 touchdowns.

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Minnesota averaged 357 yards per game last year on offense, including 216 rushing and 142 passing yards. The Gophers were #28 in rushing nationally, but #119 in passing and #103 in total offense out of 128 teams. Still, Minnesota scored 28 points a game, thanks to a +10 turnover margin. The defense allowed 368 total yards per game, including 194 passing and 175 rushing yards. Minnesota allowed 24 points per game. The Golden Gophers were in the top 40 nationally in total defense, pass defense and points allowed.

Quarterback Mitch Leidner returns for his junior year. Last year, he threw for 1,798 yards with 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and rushed for 452 yards on 126 carries with 4 touchdowns. Back-up Chris Streveler threw 11 passes lat year with a touchdown and an interception, but he rushed for 235 yards on 36 carries with a touchdown. He could see a few snaps a game.

Running back David Cobb is now with the Tennessee Titans. Cobb had 314 carries for 1,626 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 162 yards. Besides the quarterbacks, no one else had more than 30 carries last year. Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith will split the carries that Cobb took last year.

Tight end Maxx Williams is now with the Baltimore Ravens. He had 36 catches for 569 yards and 8 touchdowns. Receiver K.J. Maye is back after making 16 catches for 298 yards and a touchdown. Other than Maye, look for a quartet of redshirt freshmen (Jeff Jones, Isaiah Gentry, Desmond Gant and Melvin Holland, Jr.) to get a majority of the targets. Tight ends Lincoln Plsek (back) and Duke Anyanwu (knee) are both out Thursday. It is unclear who will start at tight end as they were the top two on the depth chart.

TCU is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games and 13-3 overall. Minnesota is 4-0 ATS on fieldturf and 4-1 overall.

Minnesota struggled on offense last year, especially in the passing game. Now, they have virtually untested receivers and running backs. The Minnesota defense kept them in a lot of games last year, but I don’t know if they can slow down the explosive TCU offense. Even on the road, TCU should roll in a low scoring affair.

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