Countdown to USC, 1 Day: Great Turnout in LA

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Every road game, the U of M Alumni Association hosts a "Sota Social" on Friday night -- but there's never been a crowd quite like the one there was tonight. Called the "biggest gathering we've had so far," by Alumni Association CEO Phil Esten, passionate Gopher fans were out in force at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The event, emceed by Gopher football radio voice Mike Grimm, featured Esten, President Eric Kaler, athletics director Joel Maturi, and of course, Goldy Gopher. But no one commanded the attention of the crowd like the star of the show, new head coach Jerry Kill. He promised the Gophers would be a team that "the great people of this state can be proud of."

Not a bad way to fire up the faithful before game day  -- Saturday's here!

Countdown to USC, 2 Days: MarQueis Ready to "Have Fun"

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We're just 2 days away from the start of the 2011 season and the battle between your Golden Gophers and the USC Trojans at the LA Coliseum.

Today, we hear from the one man who could potentially have a bigger impact on the outcome of Saturday's game than any other person on the field, as least as far as the Gophers are concerned -- junior starting quarterback MarQueis Gray.

"I'm just trying to keep a level head right now," Gray says. "We've got to make less mistakes than we did last year, and everybody's got to go out and have fun."

Tomorrow marks the last of our 10-day countdown here on GopherSports.com -- and it's going to come to you from Los Angeles itself, as we catch up with the Gopher faithful who have made the trip to watch their school play at the Coliseum! Saturday's coming!


"We're just ready to get out there and see what we're made of... For us to go in [to USC] this year and knock the head off the snake is going to be so good."

Senior Brandon Kirksey's words pretty much sum up what the entire Gopher roster is thinking right now -- we all know that "Saturday's Coming," but it needs to get here already! Only three days to go in our 10-day countdown, and the excitement is building among players, coaches and staff -- they're ready to stop talking and let their play on the field say it all.

Check back again tomorrow when we look at Day 2 in the countdown -- we'll hear from the who could have a bigger impact on Saturday's outcome than anyone else. Saturday's Coming!

Countdown to USC, 4 Days: Coach weighs in

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The clock is ticking down -- four days from now Gopher Football will finally open their season in Los Angeles agains the USC Trojans!

Today in the countdown, we hear from the man behind the program -- head coach Jerry Kill. Coach Kill held his first weekly in-season press conference today to talk about the USC game. A lot was said (for even more coverage, visit our Gopher Football Blog) but one little tidbit stood out to us. Saturday will be the first time that these Gophers can truly put Coach Kill's favorite saying ("I hear what you say, and trust what you do) into practice.

Only four days left in the countdown! Check back tomorrow for Number Three. Saturday's Coming!

Countdown to USC, 5 Days: Student "excited" for LA

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Only five days left in our countdown to Gopher Football's season opener against the USC Trojans at the LA Coliseum. Today, we look at the game from a fan's point of view -- one very lucky fan, in fact.

U of M junior and three-year student season ticket holder Rachel Kroska was just minding her own business at work a couple of weeks ago when she received a call from the Gopher  marketing department -- as the first student to reserve her football tickets, she had won a trip to travel with the team to Los Angeles for the USC game!

Watch the video for more of Rachel's reaction to this news, but let's just say that she was... "Excited," to say the least.

Come back tomorrow when Coach Kill makes his first appearance on our countdown. Only five days left to go!

Countdown to USC, 6 Days: Da'Jon's Day

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For the 10 days before Golden Gopher Football opens the 2011 season against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 3, GopherSports.com will feature a new video vignette highlighting the matchup between these two storied programs.

With six days remaining, we look back at a more recent highlight from the game between these two teams last fall at TCF Bank Stadium. Down 13-7 late in the third period on third and long, Da'Jon McKnight made a spectacular catch on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Adam Weber to put the Gophers in front 14-13 temporarily (the Gophers eventually fell 32-21).

"We were down, and the linebacker kept coming on and off the field," recalls McKnight. "I had a small DB on me, and [Weber] said hike. I ran my go route... I reached out with my big hands and had the ball in my hand, and I scored."

Watch the video to see how excited Da'Jon is to make another highlight-reel catch this Saturday, and check back on Monday for Number 5 in our countdown!

Saturday's Coming!

Countdown to USC, Day 7: Like Father, Like Sons

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For the final 10 days before Golden Gopher Football opens the 2011 season against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 3, GopherSports.com will feature a new video vignette highlighting the matchup between these two storied programs.

Ed Olson Sr.'s sons Ed Jr. and Tommy have already done a lot to follow in their father's footsteps; both chose to attend the University of Minnesota and play offensive line for the Gophers. Interestingly enough, the Olson brothers will bridge another generation gap on Sept. 3 when they step on the field at the LA Coliseum to take on the USC Trojans -- Olson Sr.'s 1980 Gopher team was also the last one to play at the Coliseum.

Exactly one week to go -- that's Day 7 in our Countdown to USC. Check back tomorrow for number 6 on our list. Saturday's Coming!

Countdown to USC, Day 8: "The Play" in '68

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For the final 10 days before Golden Gopher Football opens the 2011 season against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 3, GopherSports.com will feature a new video vignette highlighting the matchup between these two storied programs.

With eight days to go until Sept. 3, we have another blast from the past: The Sept. 21, 1968 game at Memorial Stadium between the No. 16 Gophers and the second-ranked Trojans. Receiving a kickoff while trailing 16-13 with 7:56 remaining in the second half, the Gophers George Kemp toss a cross-field lateral to senior John Wintermute, who scrambled 83 yard for the score to give Minnesota a 20-16 lead.

"It was a perfect storm moment," Kemp said later. "The play only took a few seconds. But, sometimes to me, it feels like it took 20.''

Running back O.J. Simpson, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that year, would soon take over, scoring the final two of his four touchdowns on the day to give USC an eventual 29-20 win. But Wintermute's return is one of the more memorable plays in the storied history of the two programs.

That's Day 8 in our Countdown to USC -- check back tomorrow for number 7 on our list. Saturday's Coming!

Nine days to USC: Going back home

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For the final 10 days before Golden Gopher Football opens the 2011 season against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 3, GopherSports.com will feature a new video vignette highlighting the matchup between these two storied programs.

On Day 9 of our countdown, we ask Los Angeles-area native and Gopher sophomore cornerback Brock Vereen on what it will be like to go back home and play the Trojans in front of family and friends.

That's Day 9 in our Countdown to USC -- check back tomorrow for number 8 on our list. Saturday's Coming!

Saturday's Coming: 10 Days to USC

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For the final 10 days before Golden Gopher Football opens the 2011 season against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 3, GopherSports.com will feature a new video vignette highlighting the matchup between these two storied programs. These might include insight from current and former players and coaches, highlights from previous battles and even insight from fans looking forward to the start of the Jerry Kill era.

Today's feature is a highlight from the Gophers 1955 25-19 win over the Trojans on Oct. 29, 1955.

1955 would be considered a down season for Golden Gopher football. A year removed from finishing 7-2 and ranked 20th in the nation's final poll, Murray Warmath's team opened the season 1-4 as they welcomed 10th-ranked USC into town.

Already up 12-6 in the third quarter, amid a snow/sleet mix and temperatures hovering in the mid-30s, Gopher quarterback Don Swanson called his own number and scampered 65 yards for the touchdown. You can read more about that game by clicking here.

That's Day 10 in our Countdown to USC -- check back tomorrow for #9 on our list. Saturday's Coming!