TCU will try to take the extra step they couldn’t make last year, & that begins with a road night game to open the new betting season. How will the Horned Frogs handle a hostile crowd?
The TCU program carries plenty of momentum into this game. The Horned Frogs rolled past Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, justifying their high ranking and letting people know that while they were disappointed in being snubbed for the playoff, they weren’t going to allow their emotions affect their on-field performance. TCU acted like a mature team in that Peach Bowl game, and that’s one of several reasons why Las Vegas has given the Horned Frogs respect in this game, installing the team as nearly a two-touchdowns-and-a-field-goal favorite over an opponent which was quite solid last season.
For Minnesota, there’s not as much momentum as what TCU has, but the outlook is still noticeably positive for the Golden Gophers this season. Minnesota won at Nebraska and showed itself to be the second-best team in the Big Ten West. The Gophers played Wisconsin (the eventual division champion) closely in a tough game in Madison, on the Badgers’ home field. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, with assistants who have had to fill in for him over the past few years when he’s faced health problems, has built a program and a family which have shown great resilience and determination. There is a lot of optimism in Minneapolis heading into this game. There is a real sense that the Gophers can win their first Big Ten West title and play for the conference championship.
You will see this line at -16 in some places, but it has crept up to -17 in others. It is generally a -16.5 line, which represents a relative holding pattern. There have not been wild fluctuations with this line. The number represents a few things, first a response to how well TCU closed the 2014 season. The Horned Frogs are a top-three team in the preseason polls, and that gets a lot of people’s attention.
The other main note about this line is that it fundamentally honors the margin of victory by TCU in last year’s home game against Minnesota. The Horned Frogs won by 23 points, 30-7. If you go by the general practice of shifting three points in a betting line from home field to neutral sites, and then three more from a neutral site to a road game, you get a six-point shift. From 23 points, that’s 17, very close to the line for this game.
TCU faces a number of injuries. Two defensive linemen – Davion Pierson and Mike Tuaua are questionable for this game. James McFarland, one of the team’s best defensive players, is doubtful. Defensive back Torrance Mosley is questionable. Cornerback DeShawn Raymond is doubtful. So is wide receiver Deante Gray.
Wide receiver and kick returner Cameron Echols-Luper left the team in August. Star wide receiver Josh Doctson is probable with a hand injury.
Minnesota will be without two tight ends, Lincoln Plsek and Duke Anyanwu.
Handicapping The Game
TCU’s injuries leave the Horned Frogs vulnerable in terms of depth. Star TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has enough to win this game, but probably not enough to cover the spread. Minnesota will keep this game close enough that TCU will still have to sweat early in the fourth quarter.
College Football Pick: Minnesota +17 at Bovada