MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is “the” test of the non-conference season for the Gophers football team.

They’re headed to Fort Worth to face Texas Christian University. They’re two touchdown underdogs who are physically beaten up.

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Mitch Leidner practiced and expects to play despite a sprained MCL, which surprises no one in the program – including tight end Maxx Williams.

“Mitch is gonna go. I have no doubt in my mind,” Williams said. “Mitch is one of the toughest guys I know by far.”

Then there is the other enticing storyline of this game. Jerry Kill and Gary Patterson are not just opposing head coaches. They coached together, became very good friends and Kill was actually in his wedding.

You get the picture.

With that in mind, Kill wishes they would never have scheduled this game. The ties are so tight with a man he respects from way back.

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“I would tell you, I think most coaches in our profession, you know, he’s as good a defensive football coach there is in the country,” Kill said. “I think everybody knows that. And so we, you know, shared ideas and, you know, just got to be friends through that.”

It goes beyond Kill. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys mirrored his philosophy after spending time on the TCU campus.

“One time I was down there eight of ten years in a row, you know. And the first time I became defensive coordinator … I spent 10 of 15 practices,” Claeys said.

Defensive lineman Cameron Bettocelli compares the battle between Kill and Patterson to a rivalry he would have with a pal playing Madden 2014.

“These are two friends doing this will real football teams,” Bettocelli said.

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Kickoff is at 3 p.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Mike Max