Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Minnesota Embraces The Challenge Of Playing No. 2 TCU

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

NOTE: This wraps up a two-part series focusing on Thursday's meeting between TCU and Minnesota. This article focuses on the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

For Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, having a prime opportunity to exact revenge from a 30-7 loss last season to No. 2 TCU weighs heavy as the teams collide on the gridiron Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.

Kill embraces the challenge knowing that the majority of the crowd will be on the Gophers' side.

"It's a great challenge for our program and we look forward to taking on TCU and doing it at home, with a lot excitement around [TCF Bank Stadium]," Kill said.

"We played them last year and did not fare well and were able to look at that game and played much better football after [the loss]."

The Gophers were able to use the game as motivation as it played Ohio State and Wisconsin close in defeats and finished with its second 8-5 mark in as many years. 

The TCU game is a perfect opportunity to put Minnesota on the map as a credible threat for the Big Ten Championship.

"We are hoping this time around, we can get the win and there's no question that [TCU] is a great measuring stick for us," Kill said.

Bond Between Kill and TCU coach Gary Patterson:

As mentioned in Monday's preview featuring TCU, the bond between Kill and Patterson runs deep, despite never being on the same coaching staff.

Kill talked about preparation for Thursday's game and the lack of contact with him and Patterson have had with one another.

"We talked a couple of times, but over the last month, we've certainly been concentrating on our football teams and getting them ready and that's where we have been on that," Kill said.

Players To Watch For Minnesota- Quarterback Mitch Leidner:

After going 12 of 26 for 151 yards and three interceptions against TCU last season and being pulled in favor of back-up Chris Streveler, Mitch Leidner will have plenty to prove under the lights.

Leidner must improve on a conference-low 51.5 completion percentage in 2014 if the Gophers are to have any hope of pulling off a major upset against the Horned Frogs. 

Gophers' Secondary:

Despite having the 12th-best pass defense (186.6 passing yards per game) in the FBS last season, Minnesota will be tested out of the gate against one of the best receiving groups in the country in TCU.

The unit should have plenty of motivation from last season's 30-7 loss at TCU when Trevone Boykin threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns– both to standout receiver Josh Doctson.

Expect redshirt senior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun to be the quarterback of the group. Calhoun played in all 13 games, finished with five interceptions and was named to the All-Big Ten first team last season.

Game Planner:

No. 2 TCU Horned Frogs at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Location: TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN

Time: Thursday, 8 p.m. CT

TV/Online: ESPN/WatchESPN

Line: TCU -14.5

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