NCAA Game Summary - Minnesota at Southern California
(Saturday, September 3rd)
Final Score: (25) Southern California 19, Minnesota 17
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Southern California will not compete in the postseason this year, but that didn't stop the 25th-ranked Trojans from downing Minnesota, 19-17, in their 2011 opener on Saturday.
This will be the final season that USC is on probation as NCAA sanctions will keep the club from playing for the inaugural Pac-12 championship or participating in a bowl game.
Matt Barkley threw three touchdowns to Robert Woods as the Trojans (1-0) won their 14th straight season opener. Barkley went 34-of-45 with 304 yards while Woods caught 17 passes, a USC single-game record, for 177 yards in the win.
D.J. Morgan added 18 carries for 70 yards in the win for USC, which has won 12 straight against Big Ten opponents.
"We came out putting up great numbers, but after that we just sat on it," said Woods. "We can't do that if we expect to win this year."
Duane Bennett ran for a touchdown while Max Shortell threw for a touchdown but was intercepted on the final drive for the Golden Gophers (0-1), who failed to win in the debut of new head coach Jerry Kill.
"The good thing is that we found out a lot about our team cause we played a good team," said Kill. "We're going to be a disappointed group on the way home, but that tells me something, too."
Bennett finished with 53 yards on 15 carries while Marqueis Gray went 7-of-12 with 94 yards and added 48 yards on 16 carries for Minnesota, which went just 3-9 last season.
The Gophers never led in the game, but made it a one-score possession with 8:03 to play when Shortell hit Brandon Green on a short pass to the left and the receiver curled around his defender and into the end zone from 12 yards out to make it 19-17.
USC was able to kill close to six minutes on its next touch, but ultimately had to punt and Minnesota got the ball back at its own nine-yard line with just over two minutes to play.
However, the drive only made it to the Minnesota 28 and on 3rd-and-1 Shortell was picked off by Torin Harris and the Trojans killed off the rest of the clock.
Minnesota started the game with the ball and got into long-range field goal position, but Chris Hawthorne's 51-yard attempt was blocked.
USC took the ball back at its own 34 and used 13 plays to get into the end zone as Barkley found Woods from seven yards out with under six minutes to play in the first. The conversion rush failed for a 6-0 score.
Barkley and Woods again connected, this time on a 43-yard score in the second quarter, but the conversion pass failed and it was a 12-0 game with 9:25 remaining in the half.
Minnesota answered on its ensuing drive with a 10-play march that covered 49 yards and was capped on a 21-yard field goal from Hawthorne with just over four minutes to play.
However, Barkley and Woods again hooked up on a two-yard score to finish a nine-play, 65-yard drive that saw the team go up 19-3 with 49 seconds left.
Hawthorne missed a 42-yard attempt on the final play of the half and the Trojans took a 16-point lead into the locker room.
Southern Cal had possession to start the second half, but a bad snap on a 4th- and-6 saw the ball go over the head of Barkley and the Gophers recovered the ball at the USC 30.
Three plays later, Bennett punched the ball into the end zone from nine yards out and it was a 19-10 game with 9:37 left in the third.
The Gophers are just 25-29-2 against teams that make up the Pac-12...The Trojans improved to 73-27-3 against the Big Ten...USC improved to 6-1-1 all- time against Minnesota...USC controlled the ball for 32:44, almost 5 1/2 more minutes than Minnesota...The previous USC single-game reception record was 15 by Johnnie Morton against Houston in 1993. The three TD catches is shared with several players.
09/03 21:19:57 ET