Schedule Preview: First Six Games

The Golden Gophers will certainly be tested during the first half of their season. They face challenging opponents USC and Northwestern at home and take a road trip to Camp Randle stadium for a clash against their hated rival, the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Schedule: The Golden Gophers will certainly be tested during the first half of their season. They face challenging opponents USC and Northwestern at home and take a road trip to Camp Randle stadium for a clash against their hated rival, the Wisconsin Badgers.

Minnesota will open the season on the road, playing a night game at Middle Tennessee State on Thursday, September 2nd. The following week the Golden Gophers will take on FCS opponent South Dakota, for their home opener, beginning a four game home stand.

Their first major test will come against a storied USC program which was recently hammered by the NCAA for a barrage of rules violations stemming from the Pete Carroll coaching regime. With 13 starters returning and a bevy of former five-star prospects littering their depth chart, the Trojans, led by audacious head coach Lane Kiffin, may treat Minnesota only as a tune up for their subsequent game against conference foe Washington State. Nonetheless, the Golden Gopher players, coaches and fans will be excited on September 18 when the Trojan juggernaut from Southern California rolls into TCF Bank Stadium.

After an excited matchup against USC, Minnesota will play under the TCF Bank lights at 8:30, matching up against the Huskies from Northern Illinois. Northern Illinois returns 48 letter winners from a team that finished second in the Mid-American conference with a 7-6 record. The Golden Gophers' offense might be tested by the Huskies' formidable defense which ranked 30th nationally last year.

Trap Game: With only seven days until the Wisconsin game and a campus abuzz with homecoming festivities, the Golden Gophers will have to maintain their focus and manage their emotions for an intense game against Northwestern on October 2nd. Although the Golden Gophers bested the Wildcats 35 to 24 last season in Evanston, Northwestern finished the season strong enough to place fourth in the Big Ten with an 8-5 record. Graduated stud quarterback Mike Kafka, who is now in the NFL, will be replaced by Dan Persa under center. Persa will lead a well-coached and disciplined football team who is very capable of thumping a distracted Minnesota team. Coach Brewster will have to unify his teams' focus to avoid opening the Big Ten schedule with a loss.

Key Game: Returning Paul Bunyan's Axe to the Minnesota trophy case after a six year absence would ignite ‘Gopher Nation' with jubilation. The Golden Gophers have lost 13 of the last 15 meetings and haven't beaten the Badgers during Coach Brewster's tenure. A victory on October 9th could propel the Maroon and Gold to unexpected accomplishments over the remainder of the season and help secure Coach Brewster's job for the future. A seventh straight loss could crush team moral, making an already arduous remaining schedule, which includes Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa, a very daunting task. The 118th meeting between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers might be the single most important game on the 2011 schedule for Coach Brewster and his team.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories