August 31, 2015

Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin is one of 10 starters back from a TCU offense that helped form the nation's second-highest scoring team a year ago.

It wasn't good enough to gain the Horned Frogs a berth in the College Football Playoff and they don't intend on missing out again.

The nation's No. 2 team knows that the best way to do that is an unbeaten regular season and they'll try to take the first step towards that lofty goal Thursday night when they open on the road against a revenge-minded Minnesota team.

TCU went 12-1 and tied for the Big 12 title with Baylor a year ago, with a 61-58 loss to the then-No. 5 Bears on Oct. 11 the lone misstep. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is gone and Boykin is back, giving the Horned Frogs the clear edge in 2015.

This year, coach Gary Patterson's team doesn't plan to slip up en route to the playoffs.

''Our key is to control our own destiny, and the best way to do that is to try to win them all,'' Patterson said. ''That's what we're going to try to get done. Then we'll see how everything else falls.''

TCU averaged 46.5 points and tied for fifth in the FBS with 533.0 yards per game in 2014.

Boykin was ninth in the country with an average of 300.1 passing yards and seventh with 33 touchdowns through the air. The senior also rushed for an average of 54.4 yards with eight scores.

He's the third quarterback since 2009 to average at least 300 yards passing and 50 yards rushing, joining Heisman winners Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel.

''He knows that if we don't win a lot of ballgames, all the rest of the hype doesn't matter,'' Patterson said. ''He can throw for a gazillion yards and not be the Heisman Trophy winner if we go 6-6.''

Boykin's primary target will be Josh Doctson, who caught 11 TDs and set a school record with 1,018 receiving yards last season. Doctson is complemented by fellow receiver Kolby Listenbee, who had 753 yards receiving in 2014, while starting running back Aaron Green averaged 7.1 yards per carry.

TCU met Minnesota for the first time since 1974 and cruised to a 30-7 victory last Sept. 13. Boykin threw for 258 yards and two scores to Doctson and ran for 92 yards as the Horned Frogs led by 24 at halftime and 30 after three quarters.

That represented the Golden Gophers' worst loss - even worse than a 31-24 defeat to eventual national champion Ohio State on Nov. 15. Minnesota is eager to see if it can fare better in front of its home fans.

''It's a statement game, and I know a lot of people out there are going to see what Minnesota is about based off this opening game,'' Gophers cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun said. ''So it's definitely a different feel."

Minnesota has posted back-to-back 8-5 seasons, though last year's campaign ended with a 33-17 loss to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl that extended the program's drought without a bowl victory to 10 years.

Jerry Kill received a one-year extension through 2019 after being named Big Ten coach of the year. Now his team is expected to contend for the conference's West Division crown even though it had four players drafted by NFL teams, the most by the program since 2006.

Gone is tight end Maxx Williams, a second-round Baltimore Ravens pick who led Big Ten tight ends with 569 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Also needing to be replaced is running back David Cobb, who was fourth in the conference with 1,626 rushing yards.

"We've got to get a few holes plugged, but we're looking forward to it,'' Kill said.

The much-maligned Mitch Leidner is back after finishing last among conference qualifiers with a 51.5 completion percentage as he threw for 11 scores - seven to Williams.

Leidner was 12 for 26 for 151 yards and a career-high three interceptions in last year's loss to TCU before Chris Streveler replaced him and connected with Williams for a meaningless fourth-quarter TD.

Cobb was stuffed for a season-low 41 yards on the ground against a TCU defense that limited opponents to an average of 19.0 points for the nation's eighth-best mark. Rodrick Williams or Berkley Edwards are the likely options to replace Cobb as the starter.

Patterson and Kill are fellow Kansas natives who are good friends. Kill was part of Patterson's wedding party, but that friendship will be put on hold Thursday.

"You know what it is, we're all competitive people, and we played them last year, didn't play them very good, but at the same time that might have been the wake-up call that we'd better get going," Kill said.

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