Just in time for the close of the 2012 season, the Gophers have finalized their 2013 football schedule.
With the final details ironed out, New Mexico State has returned to Minnesota a signed contract for a two-game series with the Gophers, executive associate athletic director David Benedict confirmed Tuesday, and the deal, along with a formal announcement, awaits only Norwood Teague's signature. A preliminary version of the contract called for each home team to play the visitor approximately $200,000, making the home-and-home deal a financial wash.
The contract calls for the Gophers to face the Aggies in Las Cruces, N.M., next Sept. 7, with New Mexico State making a return trip to Minneapolis on Sept. 14, 2014. Those dates replace Minnesota's originally scheduled meetings with North Carolina, a contract that was cancelled earlier this year by Teague, Minnesota's athletic director, at the request of Gophers coach Jerry Kill. Minnesota paid the Tar Heels a settlement of $800,000 to cancel that contract.
The Gophers will be trying to avenge a loss when they travel to Aggie Memorial Stadium next September; New Mexico State defeated Minnesota 28-21 in TCF Bank Stadium last September, the teams' only meeting. The Aggies are 1-9 this season, and 0-5 in the Western Athletic Conference, a league that will drop football after this year. The Aggies' athletic department is run by former Gophers athletic director McKinley Boston.
Linebacker Brendan Beal suffered another knee injury Saturday at Nebraska, coach Jerry Kill said, and is definitely out for Saturday's game against Michigan State. Beal has already missed two complete seasons after tearing ligaments in his knee, and Kill said he sat with the junior linebacker in the locker room after the game Saturday. Kill said he is praying for Beal -- "That kid has been through so much," the coach said -- but he believes the injury is serious.
Marcus Jones, another player who has missed time following knee surgery, also re-injured his knee against the Huskers, Kill said, but that injury is not believed to be as serious.
Offensive lineman Mark Lenkiewicz suffered a knee injury as well, but Kill described his status as "questionable" for Saturday.
And defensive tackle Roland Johnson is definitely out after injuring the ACL in a knee Friday night -- during the team's non-contact walk-through. "When you have guys getting hurt in a walk-through, it's not a good day. Not a good week."