LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Wide receiver Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans celebrates after making a 43 yard touchdown reception against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

USC Vs. Minnesota: Trojans Narrowly Escapes Minnesota, Win Season Opener 19-17

USC is 6-1-1 all-time against Minnesota.

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Robert Woods Named Pac-12 Player Of The Week

Though the USC Trojans struggled to a two-point win on Saturday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, there were still some positives from the game. Quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods formed a connection that, for one game anyway, is unmatched in USC school history. For his efforts, Woods has been named Pac-12 player of the week.

Woods and Barkley hooked up for three first-half touchdowns as the Trojans built a 19-3 halftime lead over Minnesota. For the game, Woods caught a school record 17 passes for 177 yards and those three scores. The sophomore Woods led the Pac-12 conference in catchers, receiving yards, all-purpose yards, and scoring.

Barkley also set a USC record with 34 completions against the Gophers. Woods last season caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns in 2010 as a freshman, and figures to blow past those numbers very soon in 2011. Former Trojan Mike Williams caught 95 passes for 1,314 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2003. Something for Woods to shoot for in 2011.

For more news and information on USC football, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.


USC Football: Ugly Win, But Matt Barkley To Robert Woods Oh So Pretty

The No. 25 USC Trojans didn't so much win their 2011 college football opener as they survived it, building a 19-3 halftime lead only to stall in the second half and hold on for a 19-17 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. There will be plenty of time to dissect what went wrong, but for now we can look at what went right: the Matt Barkley to Robert Woods connection.

Last year, Woods caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman, but he figures to blow by those numbers this season, and then some. Woods caught a new school record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns, establishing a bond with his quarterback Barkley. Woods' 17 catches broke the USC record of 15, set by Johnnie Morton in 1993 against Houston.

Barkley and Woods were in the zone in the first half, when all three touchdowns were scored. Barkley completed 18 of 20 passes for 163 yards. On the day Barkley completed 34 of 45 passes on the day, setting a new school record of his own for completions, surpassing Todd Marinovich's 33 completions in 1989 against Notre Dame.

The Trojans have a week to get their act together, as they open Pac-12 play next Saturday at home against the Utah Utes. Barkley and Woods appear ready. But what about everyone else?

For more on USC football, check out Conquest Chronicles.


USC Vs. Minnesota: USC Escapes Second Half Rally by Minnesota, Wins Opener 19-17

The No. 25 ranked USC Trojans entered the second half leading Minnesota 19-3 at halftime. The Trojans had all of the momentum on their side as they had first possession of the ball to beginning the second half, however some drops from receivers and mistakes resulted in the Trojans struggling as they didn’t score in the second half, but survived the rally from Minnesota as they win their first game of the season, 19-17.

Matt Barkley completed 34 of his 45 passes, good for a 76 completion percentage, and threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, all caught by sophomore receiver Robert Woods, who set a USC record for catches with 17 caught passes, good for 177 yards.

In the third quarter, a miss snap from center Khaled Holmes, which resulted in a 32-yard loss on fourth down, allowed the Minnesota Gophers to score their first touchdown when Minnesota’s Duane Bennett ran it in for the 9-yard score.

Momentum shifted on the Gopher’s side soon after as they stopped DJ Morgan on fourth and down, turning over the ball on downs. USC only had 64 yards rushing the entire game, 70 yards by DJ Morgan, who led all rushers.

Minnesota quarterback Marqueis Gray had to exit the game in the third after suffering from cramps and true freshman quarterback Max Shortell entered the game. Shortell impacted the game throwing for 98 yards on 7 of 13 passing with a touchdown in the fourth.

A punt late in the fourth quarter from USC had Minnesota in position to win the game via field goal with 2:53 to go, but a interception pass from cornerback Torin Harris denied any opportunity of that happening.

The Trojans will try to regroup from a sub-par win as they host Utah (1-0) next week to open conference play. Game starts at 4:30 PT.

For more from this game and other news and information regarding the USC Trojans, visit Conquest Chronicles.


USC Vs. Minnesota Score Update: Matt Barkley, Robert Woods Lead Trojans To 19-3 Halftime Advantage

The USC Trojans enter halftime with a 19-3 lead on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The team pumped in 13 points on two scores during the second quarter, putting some distance between themselves and the Gophers thanks to quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods.

Barkley has had a solid first half in this season opener, highlighted by a 43-yard strike to Woods. He connected with Woods again later in the quarter for a two-yard touchdown. Woods, who already caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter, has __ yards and three TDs just one half into the 2011 football season. Barkley, meanwhile, has competed 18 of 20 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

The Trojans defense has also done a good job through the first half. USC has given up only 98 total yards so far and made a goal-line stand about halfway through the second quarter. The Gophers settled for a field goal.

USC is in control of this game and will receive the kick-off when the second half gets underway.


USC Vs. Minnesota Update: Trojans Lead 6-0 After First Quarter

The USC Trojans lead 6-0 after one quarter of action against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, posting atouchdown on a seven-yard pass from quarterback Matt Barkley to wide receiver Robert Woods. The feisty Trojans went for a two-point conversion after the score but failed to convert.

The Trojans offense has looked good so far. Barkley has been impressiv, missing just two passes in his 9-for-11, 55 yard performance. His passes have gone predominantly to Woods and freshman Marquis Lee. Woods has 33 receiving yards on five receptions (including the Trojans' lone touchdown) while Lee has 23 receiving yards on three receptions.

Trojan running backs have done their part in this early part of the game as well. Lead back D.J. Morgan keeps moving the chains with 19 rushing yards on four carries.

The Trojans defense has held the Gophers to just 46 yards and two first downs. USC punted at the end of the first quarter and the Gophers will get the ball back to start the second quarter from their own three-yard line.


USC Vs. Minnesota: Keys To The Game For Matt Barkley & The Trojans

The USC Trojans open their 2011 college football season on Saturday afternoon hosting the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. USC opens the season ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll, and is a 24-point favorite against the Gophers. Here are the keys to the game.

Mobile QB

Ever since Vince Young shredded the Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl, USC has had to answer questions about facing quarterbacks who can run. MarQuies Gray, the junior making his debut at quarterback for Minnesota on Saturday, certainly fits that description. Bruce Feldman, now with CBS Sports, thinks the Trojans will be able to keep Gray in check:

New Gophers coach Jerry Kill knows how to crank up a running game. But Monte Kiffin has simplified his scheme and there is a lot more speed on the defense than there was last year for USC, and it's a group that should be able to stay sharp tackling, unlike in 2010.

Offensive Line

The Trojans have three first time starters on the offensive line: left guard Jeremy Galten, right guard John Martinez, and right tackle Kevin Graf. Keeping quarterback Matt Barkley upright is of paramount concern for USC. "It's one thing when a receiver plays bad or somebody on defense, but when your offensive line plays bad it affects the health of your quarterback," head coach Lane Kiffin told Gary Klein of the LA Times.

Young Receivers

The Trojans are young but talented at wide receiver, with sophomore Robert Woods and freshman Marqise Lee getting the bulk of the time catching passes from Barkley. Last year against Minnesota, Barkley completed 17 of 26 passes for 192 yards with two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Look for Barkley to surpass those numbers Saturday, as the Trojans cruise to victory at home.

Prediction: USC 34, Minnesota 17

For more on USC football, check out Conquest Chronicles.


USC Vs. Minnesota: Game Time, TV & Broadcast Info, Notes & More

The No. 25 USC Trojans open their 2011 college football campaign on Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It is the second consecutive season the Trojans have played the Gophers. Here is the relevant information regarding the game:

For more news and information on USC football, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.


USC Secondary Coach Willie Mack Garza Resigns

As if the USC Trojans haven't had enough turmoil in their probation-filled seasons. Now they'll have to do without one of their position coaches for their season opener against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Defensive back Willie Mack Garza is heading out for personal reasons. USC Athletics has released a statement on the matter (via Bryan Fischer of CBS Sports).

"I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC," Garza said. "I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address.  I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won't be with them in what I know will be a very successful season."

Garza had been in the coaching ranks for 17 years, starting as a graduate assistant in Texas in 1994 before moving on to coach the secondary (or parts of the secondary) in stops in Western Michigan, TCU, and Tartleton State. He moved on to North Dakota State, where he moved up to defensive coordinator. This is where Lane Kiffin found him, and the young coach of the Vols made him his defensive backs coach in Tennessee in 2009. Garza followed Kiffin back to Los Angeles to coach the USC secondary in 2010, which struggled mightily in comparison to their predecessors.

Graduate assistant Sammy Knight is the likely replacement to take over. We wish Coach Garza the best in attending to his personal matters. It gives USC's defense another challenge in the 2010 season.

For more on USC football, head to Conquest Chronicles.


USC Vs. Minnesota On ABC For 79% Of Country

The USC Trojans open their 2011 college football campaign on Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The 12:30 p.m. PDT start will be televised on ABC for most of the country, and on ESPN2 and ESPN3 for some. The game will be on ABC for 79% of the country:

USC Athletics' photo 71% of the country will receive the USC vs. Minnesota game on ESPN on ABC at 12:30 pm pt.  ABC coverage map:
USC Athletics on WhoSay

This is one of just four games for the Trojans on ABC this year. USC will be televised by ABC on October 29 against the Stanford Cardinal (on ESPN in some markets), November 12 against the Washington Huskies, and on November 19 against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene.

USC has won its last 13 season openers, and has beaten Big Ten foes in 11 consecutive contests. The Trojans beat Minnesota 32-21 in Minneapolis in 2010.

For more news and information on USC football, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles. For a look at the Gophers, be sure to read SB Nation Minnesota.


USC Coach Lane Kiffin Talks Minnesota, Matt Barkley And Growth In Year Two

The No. 25 USC Trojans are just days away from the beginning of their 2011 season, slated to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday at home. Coach Lane Kiffin talked about that game and much more in an interview with reporters on Wednesday.

Asked about the Gophers specifically, Kiffin said, "Don't anticipate a lot of surprise in what they do...It's really more about scheming." It looks like the Trojans are approaching this game without preparing for specific Gopher players too much. Heavy scheming may be a good way to begin the season for these Trojans, allowing the defense to keep things simple and shake off any offseason rust.

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Matt Barkley will be a key for Kiffin this season. Asked about what he wants from his quarterback, Kiffin stated that Barkley needs to play with more consistency than last year and become a solid anchor for the Trojans. Kiffin mentioned that a 70% completion rate and a season with 30-plus touchdowns as well as under-10 interceptions are out of the question for his signal-caller.

Kiffin also addressed his thoughts on entering year two as USC's head coach: "I think it's more about knowing your staff and your roster...You feel like you're always scrambling your first year. You go into second year, you feel way ahead." Kiffin certainly looked relaxed during the interview and talked with enthusiasm about his team. He brought up on several occasions how his enhanced knowledge of the team this year will benefit USC's season.

Kiffin and the Trojans will get to show everyone just how well the team has prepared very soon against Minnesota. The game is scheduled for 12:30 PT and will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN2 and ESPN3.


USC Vs. Minnesota: All-Time Matchups

The No. 25 USC Trojans open their 2011 college football campaign on Saturday, September 3 with a battle against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. These two teams have met seven times, with the Trojans holding a 5-1-1 advantage in the all-time series. Minnesota hasn't battled USC in Los Angeles for 32 years:

  • 2011 - No. 20 USC 32, at Minnesota 21: The Gophers took a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter, but Robert Woods returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, igniting a run of 19 unanswered points by the Trojans.
  • 1980 - No. 5 USC 24, at Minnesota 7: Junior running back Marcus Allen ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
  • 1979 - at No. 1 USC 48, Minnesota 14: The Trojans ran for 311 yards to run their record to 3-0-0.
  • 1968 - No. 2 USC 29, at No. 16 Minnesota 20: O.J. Simpson slashed his way for 236 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the season opener for both teams.
  • 1965 - at No. 7 USC 20, Minnesota 20: The Trojans tied the game on a touchdown with 6:24 remaining, but a missed extra point and later missed field goal by USC ensured the sister-kisser.
  • 1955 - at Minnesota 25, No. 10 USC 19
  • 1953 - at No. 8 USC 17, Minnesota 7

For more on USC football, check out Conquest Chronicles. For more on Minnesota football, head to the Daily Gopher.


USC Vs. Minnesota: Chris Galippo Confident He'll Play

The USC Trojans are kicking off their season against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Chris Galippo's presence could be the key to improved defensive performance.

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