Southern Cal-Minnesota Preview
Despite being undefeated, Southern California players and coaches are not pleased with the team's overall play. However, it likely can't compare to the frustration felt in Minnesota.
The 18th-ranked Trojans look for a better effort as they face the Gophers for the first time in 30 years Saturday in Minneapolis.
While the Lane Kiffin era at USC is off to a positive start, the Trojans have looked less than stellar in winning their first two contests.
After allowing 588 yards in a 49-36 season-opening road win at Hawaii, USC held on for a 17-14 home victory over Virginia last Saturday. The most alarming aspect of those games could be the 24 penalties the Trojans committed. USC's 240 penalty yards are the most in the nation.
"(That's) probably the most miserable 2-0 locker room I've ever been in,'' said Kiffin, whose squad slipped two spots in the AP Poll. "Which is good. Our players understand we have to play much better."
The Trojans can start against Minnesota (1-1), which looks to bounce back from a stunning 41-38 home loss to South Dakota of the Football Championship Subdivision last weekend.
"It is certainly is an unacceptable loss on our part," coach Tim Brewster said. "This is a hard one to move on from."
The Gophers must find a way to regroup for USC, which despite its shortcomings has won 18 consecutive non-conference games and 10 straight against Big Ten opponents by an average margin of 21.7 points.
Sophomore Matt Barkley is 38 of 58 for 459 yards and thrown seven touchdowns without an interception. Marc Tyler, son of former UCLA star and Pro Bowler Wendell Tyler, has rushed for 221 yards but was limited to 67 on 18 carries versus Virginia.
Defensively, the Trojans allowed 248 fewer yards against the Cavaliers but still yielded a late score to make things close.
"We got to really go out there and show what we're about," USC linebacker Devon Kennard said.
The Gophers hope to do the same while trying to improve on their 1-4-1 mark against USC, which won 24-7 in the schools' most recent 1980 meeting.
"I can guarantee we're not going to go in there (against USC) scared," quarterback Adam Weber said. "We're going to go in there 110 percent and give them the best we've got."
If that will be enough for the Gophers to pull off an upset of their own remains to be seen.
Minnesota has totaled 893 yards in its first two games, but gave up 444 - 352 through the air - against South Dakota.
The Gophers expect to have their only returning defensive starters, safeties Kim Royston and Kyle Theret, back in the lineup for the first time this season. Royston was sidelined with a leg injury and Theret was suspended for violating team rules.
Junior Duane Bennett could pose a threat to the Trojans. After running for a career-high 187 yards during a 24-17 win over Middle Tennessee, Bennett totaled 104 on 18 carries and scored twice against South Dakota.
Weber has thrown for 408 yards and three TDs, but the senior fumbled twice last weekend.
"That will be a big emphasis for me for the rest of the season, to be smart in critical situations,'' Weber said.
Minnesota's lone victory over USC came in 1955.