Three days before the Gophers' first home football game of the year, the school had sold less than half the student season tickets it had hoped to.

A school spokesman said Wednesday that 3,100 student season tickets had been sold, which was up from 2,000 three weeks ago but still far short of the university's goal of 8,000.

The school, however, gave 5,500 free tickets to Saturday's home opener against New Hampshire to incoming freshmen who attended a pep rally last week.

"[We] want to make sure freshmen experience Gopher football game day, and then they hopefully buy a season ticket," Jason LaFrenz, the school's associate athletic director, wrote in an e-mail.

Student season-ticket sales have steadily fallen since the 50,800-seat TCF Bank Stadium opened on campus -- from 10,000 in 2009 to 7,800 in 2010 to fewer than 6,000 last year.

By contrast, Michigan had sold 21,715 student season tickets by early last month and Wisconsin sold its 13,119 allotment in only 30 minutes.