* All fans in attendance at Thursday's game are encouraged to wear GOLD as part of Throwback Thursday: Light 'Em Up Gold night at TCF Bank Stadium and can win great prizes. Click here for more details.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Minnesota begins its 2014 season against Eastern Illinois on Aug. 28. The game will be the earliest that the Gophers have ever started a college football season. The contest will be Minnesota’s ninth (third in three years) August game ever. The previous eight games were played on either Aug. 29 (1-0 record including last year’s 51-23 home win against UNLV), Aug. 30 (3-2 record) or Aug. 31 (2-0 record). The Gophers enter the 2014 season after winning eight games and going to a bowl game in 2013. It was only the sixth time in program history that the Gophers won eight games and went to a bowl game (1960, 1961, 1999, 2002 and 2003). Minnesota is 3-1-1 in season-opening games after that occurance (won in 2000, 2003 and 2004; lost in 1961 and tied in 1962). Minnesota is also 11-3-1 in season-opening games when it played in a bowl game the previous year.
2. The Gophers have never faced Eastern Illinois University, but Minnesota’s coaching staff is familiar with the Panthers. When Coach Kill was at Southern Illinois, his squad played the Panthers three times and posted a 2-1 record. Kill’s sixth game at Southern Illinois was against Eastern Illinois and it was the only time Kill lost to the Panthers, as his team dropped a 49-21 decision. Kill’s crew rebounded with a 21-6 win 2005 and a 30-11 win in 2007.
3. In 2013, the Gophers reached eight wins for the first time under Kill and for only the seventh time since 1960 and 18th time overall. In Kill's last two years, Minnesota has played 26 games and is 14-12 in those games. In their previous 26 games, the Gophers were 6-20. Last year, Kill and his staff led Minnesota to four straight Big Ten wins for the first time since 1973 and ended a 16-game losing streak to Nebraska. Kill, who was named Region 3 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association, has taken Minnesota to two consecutive bowl games.
4. Minnesota scored 334 points (25.7 ave.) last year. That is the most points that it has scored since 2006 (376 points in 13 games). The Gophers scored 221 (18.4 ave.) points in Kill’s first year and 287 (22.1 ave.) in his second. On defense, the Gophers allowed 289 points last year. Minnesota last went an entire season not allowing 300 points in 2004 when it allowed 273 points in 12 games (allowed 285 points in 13 games in 2003). The Gophers allowed 380 (31.7 ave. ) in Kill’s first year and 321 (24.7 ave.) in his second.
5. Minnesota is 17-18 all-time at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers opened their new stadium with a 20-13 win against Air Force on Sept. 12, 2009. Minnesota was 5-9 at TCF before Coach Kill was hired. Since then, the Gophers have recorded a 12-9 record and have a chance to get to .500 on Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Minnesota is 3-2 in home openers at TCF Bank Stadium, as it has beaten UNLV (2013) and New Hampshire (2012) in addition to Air Force. The Gophers lost to New Mexico State (2011) and South Dakota (2010).