SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Minnesota's rushing attack has been outstanding. The veteran offensive line has opened holes for running back Duane Bennett who ranks sixth nationally, averaging 145.5 yards per game. It will be interesting to see how effective Minnesota can be running the ball against the biggest, fastest, most athletic defense they have played this season.
While the Gophers are committed to running the football they are not a one dimensional offense. Senior quarterback Adam Weber hasn't been spectacular, but he's been solid. He has managed the offense well and is ranked 23rd in the nation in passing efficiency. Weber may have found a new go-to target in the player who backs him at quarterback. MarQueis Gray had a breakout performance at wide receiver against South Dakota catching 9 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Scoring 38 points is usually enough to secure a victory but it wasn't last week when the Coyote offense gashed the Gopher defense for 41 points and 446 total yards. Following the game quarterback Donte Warren said he and his teammates thought they could score anytime they wanted on the Minnesota defense.
The Trojans, who are banned from post-season play for violation of certain NCAA polices, are off to a 2-0 start. USC traveled to Hawaii to open the season and eked out a 17-14 victory over Virginia at home last weekend. The Trojan offense features efficient quarterback Matt Barkley, who has completed 66% of his passes with 7 touchdowns and has yet to be picked off, explosive wide receiver Ronald Johnson and running back Marc Tyler, who leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 110 yards per game.
USC's defense, which has been getting to opposing quarterbacks, is led by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, linebacker Devon Kennard, corner back Shareece Wright and safety T.J. McDonald. The Trojans have struggled defending the pass and Minnesota could look to stretch the defense exploit the inexperienced secondary with deep passes off of play action.
Gophers: The loss to South Dakota was the Gophers' second loss to an FCS team in less than four seasons after dropping a 2007 decision to North Dakota. Both of the FCS losses were home games for the Gophers … With one interception in each of the first two games of the season, sophomore linebacker Mike Rallis ranks 3rd in the nation in interceptions per game … Minnesota has come from behind in each of its last seven victories.
Trojans: USC has a 164-39-8 all-time record while playing in the month of September … The Trojans are 68-27-2 against Big Ten competition, including 17-9 in bowl meetings … All five USC running backs to carry the ball this season are averaging at least 4.9 yards per carry … Saturday's game will be a homecoming for USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who attended school at Bloomington High, and his defensive coordinator father, Monte, who was an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota vs USC Preview: Part 2
Gopher Illustrated Top Stories
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