- September 4, 2011 - 11:47 PM
NO. 25 USC 19, GOPHERS 17
The recap: The Gophers looked confused for most of the first half and let the 25th-ranked Trojans to open a 19-3 lead. But Minnesota held USC scoreless after halftime, and gave itself a chance -- foiled, finally, by a final-minute interception -- to pull off the upset.
What was learned: The Gophers still are absorbing all the changes instituted by a new coaching staff, but as they get more comfortable, they also get more effective. The defense has a few weaknesses but some playmakers, too, and the offense has big-play potential.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• Kicker Chris Hawthorne missed two of three field-goal tries, one of them badly, a 42-yarder to close the first half that was kicked far too low. But the transfer student also made a critical tackle, bringing down Robert Woods -- who returned a kickoff for a touchdown in TCF Bank Stadium last season -- before he could break another long return.
• Dan Orseske has taken big strides in the punting game. He averaged 45.2 yards on four punts, and nailed a 53-yarder, too. That's a big improvement on his 35.1-yard average of a year ago, and only 1 yard off his career-best kick.
• The Gophers didn't record a sack, but they did manage to pressure USC quarterback Matt Barkley on occasion, and they recorded nine tackles for loss, including two apiece by cornerbacks Brock Vereen and Troy Stoudermire. Safety Kim Royston also made a big tackle to stop USC tailback D.J. Morgan for no gain on a fourth-and-2 at the Gophers 20 in the third quarter.
UP NEXT: NEW MEXICO STATE
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network
Records: Gophers 0-1, NMSU 0-1
The skinny: The Aggies have lost 18 of their past 20 games, and 12 in a row on the road. They opened their season Saturday by absorbing a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Ohio, giving up 241 yards on the ground. New Mexico State quarterback Andrew Manley piled up 362 passing yards, but the Aggies managed only 6 yards on the ground.
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