While nearly making a run to the College Football Playoff last season, TCU made a nice profit for its financial backers, going 11-2 against the spread, one of the best marks in the country. The Horned Frogs open this season as road favorites up in Big Ten country when they visit Minnesota to tangle with the Golden Gophers Thursday night.
Point spread: Horned Frogs opened as 16-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 40.8-22.8 Horned Frogs
Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread
TCU returns 15 starters this season from a team that lost just one game and just missed the first ever College Football Playoff last season. That contingent is led by quarterback Trevone Boykin, who begins this season as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, four along the offensive line and three along the defensive front four. TCU begins this season ranked No. 2 in the both major polls, and with good reason as it's got the talent, and head coach Gary Patterson should have plenty of motivation to make another run at a playoff berth.
Why the Minnesota Golden Gophers can cover the spread
Minnesota returns 12 starters this season from a team that got within about three quarters of playing in the Big Ten title game last season. Five starters are back on offense, including quarterback Mitch Leidner who enters his second season as the starter, although they do have to replace 1,600-yard rusher David Cobb. Seven starters are back on defense. More importantly, however, this is probably the best team, depth-wise, that head coach Jerry Kill has had in his five seasons with the Golden Gophers. Also, Minnesota is 3-0 against the spread its last three times out as a home underdog.
After getting snubbed by the playoff committee last year, the Horned Frogs will be taking no chances this season. Win, and win big if possible, is the plan. Minnesota, meanwhile, is an improving program under Kill, but probably doesn't have enough to pull off the upset here. Also, these teams just met back in Week 2 of last season, when as a 16-point home favorite TCU cashed in with a 30-7 victory. This time the game is in Minnesota, but that just means the spread is little more amenable. The smart pick here is the road Frogs.
TCU is 14-2 ATS in its last 16 games.
The total has gone under in seven of Minnesota's last 10 games at home.
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last five Week 1 games.