USC Pulls Away In Second Half To Defeat Minnesota, 32-21

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Three Straight Scores Propel USC Over Minnesota, 32-21

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Robert Woods’ 97-yard kickoff return in the third quarter began a string of 19 straight Trojans points, as 18th-ranked Southern California survived Minnesota, 32-21.

Allen Bradford carried the load in the running game, amassing 129 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries for USC (3-0), which was coming off a lackluster 17-14 win over Virginia last week.

Matt Barkley had another mediocre game behind center, completing 16-of-25 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the win.

The Trojans’ defense held Minnesota (1-2) to 305 total yards, with Adam Weber completing only 15-of-29 throws for 226 yards with two TDs and two picks in defeat, the Golden Gophers’ second straight.

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Despite Mistakes, USC Leads Minnesota At Halftime, 13-7

A 53-yard touchdown pass from Matt Barkley to Ronald Johnson gave the Trojans a 13-7 lead, that they carried into halftime over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. However, many mistakes, some old and some new, plagued the Trojans in the first half.

USC was penalized five times for 42 yards, actually less than their average so far this season yet still unacceptably high. Kicker Joe Houston missed a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, and USC tried yet another two-point conversion (much like the Hawaii game), failing on a Mitch Mustain pass attempt.

In addition, Barkley threw his first interception of the season, after starting the season with eight touchdowns and no picks.

USC out-gained Minnesota in yards, 174 to 108, and have nine first downs compared to seven for the Golden Gophers. Both teams struggled mightily on third down conversions, as Minnesota was 1-for-6 and USC failed in all four attempts.

USC will receive the kickoff to begin the third quarter.

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USC, Minnesota Trade Touchdowns In First Quarter, 7-7

After Minnesota capitalized on a missed Joe Houston field goal from 48 yards with a 69-yard touchdown drive to open the scoring, USC responded with a 13-play, 61-yard drive to tie the score at 7-7 to end the first quarter.

Marc Tyler had a three-yard rushing touchdown for the Trojans.

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A Look At The USC-Minnesota Game From The Eyes Of The Daily Gopher

Here are some thoughts from this week from the SB Nation blog about the University of Minnesota, The Daily Gopher.

Earlier this week, both Conquest Chronicles and The Daily Gopher exchanged thoughts, with five things each side should know about the other. Here's an excerpt from what to know about the Golden Gophers:

3. We don't have one player who would start for USC

No really, not one. I say that more so that you'll hopefully feel bad if you don't blow us out because you really, really should. So if you don't, it's almost like losing. The only guy we have who might crack your two deep is sophomore MarQueis Gray. He's our backup QB, and could be good enough to start- it's just that our coaching staff refuses to bench incumbent starter Adam Weber so he's never had a chance. Think of Adam Weber like...Mike Van Raaphorst. But not as good. But with a better name (seriously what the hell kind of name is Van Raaphorst anyway?). So yeah, as I was saying, Weber plays no matter what because Coach Brew says he must, so we have to find other ways to use MarQueis. The same guy who was the #2 rated dual-threat QB coming out of high school in Indianapolis behind some guy named Terrelle Pryor. Brewster decided the dual threat ability would be as a wide receiver. He's 6'4 and 230 pounds with good hands, good speed, and a ton of athleticism, and he did have 9 catches for 91 yards and a TD last week. OF course that was against 1-AA South Dakota? Is your defense better than USD's? It is? Ok well then he may not be that tough for you, but seriously, he tore up a 1-AA defense.

In addition, this week figures to be a big recruiting weekend for Minnesota, with USC in town, with at least six top recruits paying an official visit to watch the game.

The Daily Gopher even scored an interview with a USC Song Girl this week:

TDG - I think we all assume that the life of a Song Girl is all glamorous and you are living the life of a Hollywood star. Tell us something interesting about being a Song Girl that we'd be surprised to know. What is the least glamorous thing about being a Song Girl?

SGS - Being a USC Song Girl is such a great honor and all the girls on the team feel so lucky to be having the experiences that we are having. One interesting thing that happened last season when our team traveled to Chicago for the Notre Dame game, was that we only got two hotel rooms for our team of ten girls. This meant girls were sleeping on couches and on game day, there were five girls sharing one mirror! It was a little stressful but it all worked out on the end!

They also pointed out what may be a key matchup in today's game:

(1) That mammoth Gopher offensive line v. USC's pretty darn good defensive line - The Gophers have been racking up impressive rushing totals behind the work of Coach Davis and the big lugs up front (it's worth noting that for as good as Minny's been so far, they only have 30 more rushing yards than Denard Robinson after 2 games). However, they've made those numbers against MTSU and USD's severely under-sized and non-guru approved defensive fronts. The challenge comes tomorrow - USC's starting D-linemen run 295-305-305-260, with backups in the two-deep that are similarly sized. And as Buck showed you, they're all guru-approved goliaths. Minnesota won't be able to push these guys around as easily as they did the first two opponents, and if they can't run the ball, the game-plan might be out the window.

For more information on today's game, be sure to read both The Daily Gopher and Conquest Chronicles.

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Spotlight Will Shine Brightly On the Offensive Line

The Trojan’s offensive line was criticized heavily in their last game against the Virginia Cavaliers for their lack of discipline.

The line was responsible for most of the penalties called against USC and for disrupting their offensive flow. A holding penalty by offensive guard Khaled Holmes prevented the touchdown pass that Ronald Johnson scored for 47-yards.

“I feel terrible about it,” right guard Khaled Holmes said. “We had a bunch of those, but it’s something we can get better at.”

The line also didn’t help the running game. USC’s running backs only amassed a total of 127 yards, a 119 yard drop off from their first game against the Hawaii Warriors. Marc Tyler led USC in rushing yards with 67 yards, but only managed a 3.7 yards per carry average.

The offensive line will be able to redeem itself against the Minnesota Gophers defense, who surrendered 41 points to South Dakota (an FCS team, no less).

Hopefully the line has learned to be more disciplined in the last seven days because they will be hearing screaming Gophers fans in the fairly new TCF Bank Stadium.

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USC Looks For Complete Game Against Minnesota

GAME NOTES: The 18th-ranked USC Trojans pay a visit to the Twin Cities for the first time in 30 years, as they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in non- conference play at TCF Bank Stadium.

This is the seventh all-time meeting between the two programs, but the first since the Trojans claimed a 24-7 victory at Minnesota in 1980. Overall, USC leads the all-time series 4-1-1 and has won the last three encounters with Minnesota.

The Trojans enter the contest undefeated under new head coach Lane Kiffin, who came over following a one-year stint at Tennessee. Kiffin, who spent six seasons (2001-2006) as an assistant at USC under Pete Carroll, made his home head coaching debut this past weekend in a less than stellar 17-14 victory over Virginia.

"This is probably the most miserable 2-0 locker room I've ever been in, which is good. Our players understand the standards we want to have here. We expect to play better than that," Kiffin said.

Still, it was the 18th consecutive non-conference win for USC, which opened the campaign with a 49-36 triumph at Hawaii.

As for the Gophers, they come into the game with less confidence following a shocking 41-38 home loss to South Dakota, a FCS program, last weekend.

"As I just told the team, the depth of my disappointment right now, you cannot measure it," stated head coach Tim Brewster. "I do not want to discredit South Dakota in any way. I want to make sure we give them the proper credit but it certainly is an unacceptable loss on our part by our team."

The loss got a four-game homestand started off on the wrong foot and was surprising following a 24-17 victory against a solid Middle Tennessee club on the road to begin the season.

The Trojans were sloppy and out of sync in their home opener this past weekend, as they managed only 17 points and suffered 13 penalties for 150 yards. The offense gained a modest 329 total yards, well off the 524 yards gained versus Hawaii in the opener. QB Matt Barkley threw for 202 yards and a pair of scores in the win, but it was far less impressive then his five-TD performance in the opener. Ronald Johnson, who had four total scores against Hawaii, wasn't much of a factor last weekend, catching five passes for 58 yards. The ground attack didn't play a big part either, posting just 127 yards after gaining 246 in the opener.

USC's defense mostly kept Virginia in check this past weekend, yielding just 340 total yards. That was a big improvement after Hawaii torched the Trojans for 588 total yards. Virginia converted just 17-of-36 pass attempts and only 4-of-15 third downs against USC, which came up with a pair of sacks as well. The defense however, has forced just one turnover through the first two games and that is an area in need of improvement going forward. T.J. McDonald headed the defense last weekend with 14 tackles and an INT, while Wes Horton tallied a sack for the second time in as many games.

The Gophers got off to a slow start last weekend and simply could not overcome South Dakota in a 41-38 loss. Minnesota, which trailed by as many as 18 points, did show good balance between the run (204 yards) and pass (258) in the setback. Despite losing a pair of fumbles, QB Adam Weber had a nice game, completing 21-of-31 tosses for 258 yards and three TDs. It was a nice bounce back for Weber, who wasn't all that impressive in the opener with 150 yards passing and no scores. TB Duane Bennett is another weapon for this offense and he has cracked the century mark in each of the first two games. After going for 187 yards in the first game, Bennett rushed for 104 yards and a pair of TDs this past weekend.

Defensively, the Gophers were exploited in the loss to South Dakota, which had six total TDs with an even split between run and pass. South Dakota did most of its damage through the air, passing for 352 yards on an efficient 21-of-30 tosses. Minnesota came up with two picks, but simply couldn't slow down South Dakota on a consistent basis. It was a far different story in the opener when the Gophers gave up just 318 total yards, while the defense spent less than 15 minutes on the field. Mike Rallis led the defense with 7.5 tackles and his second INT of the season in last weekend's loss.

USC hasn't been all that impressive, but its hard to expect Minnesota to pull off the upset after it just lost at home to a FCS program. Expect the Trojans to come out on top, although it may not be pretty again.

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