Friday, September 4, 2015

No. 2 TCU Escapes 23-17 At Minnesota

                                  Photo Credit: Geno Green

Despite completing 26 of 42 passes for 246 yards for a touchdown and an interception to add to his Heisman Trophy campaign, Trevone Boykin knows after No. 2 TCU's 23-17 victory over Minnesota Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium that each opponent will bring their A-game. 

"No game is going to be easy," Boykin said. "We are the number two team in the nation and everybody's gunning for us and we will get everyone's best shot. "It wasn't pretty, but at the end of the day, we are 1-0 and that's what matters."

Even overcoming two turnovers and rushing for 92 yards, Boykin looked at the bigger picture going forward.

"It's hard," Boykin expressed in a humble manner. "When you have guys on defense like we have, you have faith in those guys to get us  back on the field and for us to score points.

"Playing at quarterback, you have to have a short memory, so when we turn the ball over, my next thing is what is the next play and try to not let it get to me."

After a Minnesota punt on its first possession, the scoring would open at the 6:58 mark in the first half in a weird way as the picture of a Gopher appeared in the backdrop of a fading skyline on the big board, but that didn't phase TCU placekicker Jaden Oberkrom as he drilled it down the middle from 53 yards.

Josh Carraway's sack and forced strip on Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner gave TCU a fumble recovery in the redzone and would execute two plays into the next drive as Boykin found Josh Doctson for an 11-yd TD reception on a slant route to go ahead 10-0 with 5:46 left in the opening quarter. 

The Horned Frogs defense began to exude confidence from Carraway's turnover on the previous possession and forced Leidner to miss KJ Maye on two separate pass attempts on the same drive and forced the Gophers to punt. 

Minnesota's defense would come up with a huge stop as TCU's Aaron Green fumbled at the Minnesota 10-yard line as Eric Murray recovered. 

The Gophers failed to capitalize on Murray's turnover as it went three and out.

With 9:43 left in the second quarter, the Gophers started from their own 40-yard line– their best field position to that point in the game and the Horned Frogs' Derrick Kindred delivered one of his team-high nine tackles with a huge hit on Rodrick Williams as the ball went into the end zone for a TCU touchback.

Gophers coach Jerry Kill knows plays like the Williams fumble were the ultimate undoing.

"[TCU] made some critical plays and we didn't. It's disappointing," Kill said. "You sleep with it tonight or try to get up and then you go again."

The Gophers were able to get on the board as Ryan Santoso nailed a 42-yd FG down the middle to cut their deficit to seven with 5:22 left in the first half.

On its last two red-zone possessions of the first half, TCU failed to come away with zero points (fumble, missed FG) and kept the lead at 10-3 at halftime.

Boykin would respond by showing the raw athleticism which garnered Heisman consideration in the preseason using blocks from the offensive line to a tee as he jotted into the end zone from 19 yards.

Ahead by two touchdowns and driving close to the UM red zone, TCU dealt itself an unforced error as Boykin threw an interception right to the arms of Murray.

Minnesota would be able to take advantage of TCU's miscue as Rodney Smith pounded the ball in from a yard out to make it 17-10 with 3:44 remaining in the third.

TCU's next drive would stall in Minnesota's territory as Oberkrom would come on to convert a 45-yard field goal with 0:36 left in the third quarter.

Oberkrom would tack on a 33-yd make near the halfway mark of the fourth to put to TCU up 13.

The Gophers scored late on a 22-yd TD reception from Maye, but the Horned Frogs were able to recover an onside kick and escape from Minneapolis well-tested, now knowing each opponent will give them their best shot on a weekly basis.

Game Notes:

- Leidner struggled to get into a rhythm all game going 19 of 35 passing for 197 yards and a touchdown late to Maye. 

- A lot of opportunities were left on the field for UM as a combination of poor field position and turnovers were too much to overcome.

- Freshman running back Rodney Smith made the most of his first start as a Gopher carrying the ball 16 times for 88 yards and touchdown.

- TCU holds a 2-1 all-time series lead on Minnesota after Thursday's win.

-With a sellout crowd of 54,147, Minnesota set a new TCF Bank Stadium attendance record.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Sept. 12 as TCU plays Stephen F. Austin its home opener on Fox Sports Net, while Minnesota travels to face Colorado State on the CBS Sports Network.

Both games kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.