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GOPHERS VS. TROJANS 2011 GAME
USC Trojans (2-0, 0-2 ATS) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-1, 1-1 ATS), NCAA Football Week 3, TCF Bank Stadium, (Field Turf) Minneapolis Minnesota, Saturday, September 18th, 2010, 3:30 PM Eastern
By Jeff Hochman of JHSportsline.com
Betting Odds: University of Southern California -14/Min +14
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The 18th ranked Southern California Trojans invade TCF Bank Stadium to play unranked Minnesota, who got embarrassed at home last week by a much less superior team. This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams.
USC looked to be all offense and no defense intheir season opener at Hawaii. On Saturday against a rebuilding Virginia team, the Trojans appeared to be all defense and no offense at the Rose Bowl. USC gained 524 yards against Hawaii but allowed 588 yards. USC gained only 340 yards against Virginia but allowed 329. The Trojans are lucky to be 2-0, but good teams willfind ways to win.
Minnesota got embarrassed by an FBS team, losing to South Dakota 41-38 as 30-point home favorites last Saturday. They won the stats but lost the game. The Gophers took an early 3-0 lead on Eric Ellestad’s field goal, but were never ahead again. Minnesota trailed by 11 points twice, first at 14-3 and again 21-10 at halftime. The defense then gave up a 61-yard pass play for a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
When the Gophers cut the lead to 34-31 early in the fourth quarter, the defense crumbled again, allowing South Dakota to move down the field again and score on a 36-yard run by quarterback Dante Warren. The Golden Gophers cut the lead to three with a little over three minutes left, but the defense couldn’t get the ball back and South Dakota ran out the clock.
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Matt Barkley has been fantastic for the Trojans in the early part of the season. He has completed 65.5% of his passes and has thrown for seven touchdowns in two games. The Golden Gophers secondary figures to have their hands full with Ronald Johnson, Robert Woods, and Dillon Baxter, who all have great pass-catching attributes. They allowed 352 yards through the air to South Dakota, who is not known for having a great passing attack.
Adam Weber is no slouch at quarterback for the Golden Gophers. He has thrown for 408 yards with three touchdowns so far this season. Minnesota likes to run the ball a lot, but I don’t see them having a big day against this USC run defense. The Gophers ran for over 200 yards in their loss last week and will need the same effort today, if they have any chance at getting the upset victory. Look for Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge to be fed the “rock” early and often. That will set up some nice play-action passes in the second half.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Minnesota Golden Gophers +14. I think Minnesota will play hard in this game as a result of what happened to them at home last Saturday. Losing to an FBS (Formerly Division II) team as 30-point favorites is quite embarrassing. Now, they dress up as double-digit homeunderdogs in a role reversal. USC has no real motivation to blow out teams this season. They also have a very young secondary. I lean to the home dog in this one!