The Horned Frogs welcome their second of three non-conference opponents this Saturday when the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Big Ten travel to Fort Worth.
The Golden Gophers arrive as relatively rare opponent. The programs have met only once before in 1974, a game which resulted in a 9-7 loss for the Horned Frogs. TCU are 3-1 against Big Ten opposition under head coach Gary Patterson, and the Frogs will look to improve on that record come Saturday.
TCU’s last two meetings against Big Ten schools have come in bowl games; a defeat against Michigan State in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and the unforgettable Rose Bowl triumph against Wisconsin in 2010.
The Horned Frogs’ blowout win against Samford two weeks ago has set a blistering pace for the 2014 season, and the new offense under Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie seems to be firing on all cylinders.
The Frogs racked up an impressive 555 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs, their best output since a 47-7 victory over Utah back in 2010. Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin looked in his element against Samford, throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns in 3 complete quarters of work. He was named last week’s Big 12 player of the week for his display.
While the offense turned some heads, the defense was equally as efficient – limiting Samford to only 143 total yards. A breakout performer against Samford, defensive end Mike Tuaua was a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line. The junior Tuaua recorded a career high 7 tackles, with two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Typical of a Gary Patterson-led defense, the Horned Frogs were physical from the start to the finish against Samford.
This physicality will be key in stopping Minnesota’s potent run game, which features a senior tailback David Cobb. Cobb rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns last week.
After straining a ligament in his knee against Middle Tennessee, Minnesota starting quarterback Mitch Leidner is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Streveler is listed as the backup quarterback on the Golden Gophers’ depth chart.
Streveler has only thrown one pass this season, and should he get the start, expect Minnesota to put the ball in David Cobb’s hands more often than not.
Should the Gophers try their luck through the air, the TCU secondary should be well-equipped to handle anything thrown their way. Starting cornerback duo Kevin White and Ranthony Texada limited Samford quarterback Michael Eubank to only 63 passing yards with one interception. These numbers only further the notion that David Cobb will have a major role to play come Saturday.
The key matchup to watch for this Saturday is whether or not the Frogs’ run defense can stop Minnesota’s rushing attack. If TCU can force the ball into the new quarterback Streveler’s hands instead of Cobb’s, the Golden Gophers may be more prone to make mistakes. Look for players such as Mike Tuaua, Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson to step up and make an impact on the defensive line.