Minnesota Comes up Short against Number-2 TCU
September 3, 2015

Both teams felt they had something to prove, and it was the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs who held off the Minnesota Gophers 23-17 before 54,147 fans at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Last year the Gophers were humbled 30-7 by TCU in Fort Worth, and the Horned Frogs were left out when it came to selecting the four teams for the college playoffs. TCU head coach Gary Patterson, asked if a less-than-dominant win over the Gophers would hurt the quest to make the playoffs this year, remarked, “I’m glad I’m 1 and 0. I care more about the rankings at the end of the season.”

Veteran Minnesota football followers said this game against a number-two ranked team was generating the most excitement for a season opener since O. J. Simpson and the University of Southern California Trojans came to Minnesota in 1968.

Against USC, however, the Gophers gave their fans more to cheer about, holding leads in the first and second halves. Against TCU, Minnesota fell behind early and never caught up.

The Horned Frogs scored on their first possession, talking a 3-0 lead on a 53-yard field goal by Jaden Oberkrom and then capitalized on a turnover when Terrell Lathan clobbered Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner attempted to pass. Lathan forced a fumble, which was recovered by Josh Carraway on the Minnesota 15. It took two plays to reach the end zone, the second an 11-yard pass from Trevone Boykin to Josh Doctson.

Early in the second quarter both teams missed scoring chances because of fumbles. TCU coughed up the ball at the Minnesota 11 as cornerback Eric Murray separated the ball from Aaron Green. A couple of drives later Minnesota got inside the TCU 10 when Derrick Kindred forced a fumble by Rodrick Williams.

The Gophers finally scored on a 42-yard field goal by Ryan Santoso and stayed within seven points when Oberkrom hit the upright with a field-goal attempt in the waning seconds of the half.

TCU took the opening kickoff of the second half and again moved easily down the field. Boykin completed a 76-yard drive as he weaved and broke free for a 19-yard touchdown run and a 17-3 lead. The Gophers countered later in the quarter after Murray intercepted a pass inside his 20, and Leidner ran and passed his way downfield. The drive culminated with a one-yard run into the end zone by Rodney Smith.

The Horned Frogs got another field goal by Oberkrom to carry a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter.

Despite a couple of overthrown passes by Boykin, TCU hung on and increased its lead to 23-10 on a 33-yard field goal with 2:09 left. Leidner worked quickly and finished a 91-yard drive with a wobbly pass to Maye that was good enough for a 22-yard touchdown.

TCU recovered an onside kick, worked more time off the clock, and punted to the Gophers with 27 seconds. It wasn’t enough time for Minnesota, and the Horned Frogs came away with the win.

Patterson commented on his team’s mistakes, especially Boykin twice overthrowing receivers who were open either in the end zone or inside the 5. “You gotta make those plays in big ball games. We learned a lesson.

“If you had a perfect ball game that everyone learned a lesson, this was it.”

From scrimmage, TCU outgained Minnesota 449 to 341. In addition to passing for 246 yards, Boykin was the leading rusher in the game with 92 yards. Green was close with 88. Doctson was the leading receiver with 8 catches for 74 yards.

Mitch Leidner connected on 19 of 35 passes for 197 yards, and May caught 4 of those passes for 72 yards. Smith was the team’s leading rusher with 88 yards on 16 carries.

Patterson and Minnesota coach Jerry Kill are good friends—off the field. “We’re more fierce competitors than we are good friends.” The two coaches and teams have completed a rugged home-and-home series, and Patterson said, “Now we can talk again.”

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