Game 1: Minnesota at UNLV
Five Things You Need To Know
1. Minnesota begins its second season under the direction of head coach Jerry Kill and will look to improve upon a 3-9 record from last year. If history is any indication, Minnesota should realize a better fate this year than last year, as all of Kill's previous teams have improved from his first to second year. While at Saginaw Valley St., Kill's squad went 6-4 in his first year before going 7-3 in his second year. Emporia State was 5-6 during Kill's first year, but improved to 6-5 during his second season. Kill took a 1-10 Southern Illinois in his first year and produced a 4-8 team in his second year. Most recently at Northern Illinois, Kill's team was 6-7 in his first season, but improved to 7-6 in his second year.
2. Minnesota is 8-2 in its last 10 season-opening games, but fell 19-17 at No. 25 USC to begin the 2011 campaign. The Gophers have not lost consecutive season-opening games since 1992-94, when they lost three straight games to begin a season (vs. San Jose State, at No. 17 Penn State, vs. No. 9 Penn State)
3. For the first time in program history, the Gophers will begin the season on the road for the fourth straight year when they play at UNLV on Aug. 30. The Gophers are 2-1 in their last three season-opening games, posting wins at Middle Tennessee State (24-17 in 2010) and Syracuse (23-20 in overtime in 2009). Minnesota narrowly lost 19-17 at No. 25 USC to begin the 2011 season. Minnesota is the only major conference team to open on the road four straight years from 2009-12.
4. MarQueis Gray has 1,581 career passing yards, 1,341 rushing yards and 645 receiving yards. He is only the second FBS player since 1996 to reach those minimums. The other player to achieve that feat was New Mexico State's Paul Dombrowski, who had 2,438 passing yards, 1,446 rushing yards and 1,200 receiving yards from 2002-05.
5. Minnesota enters the 2012 season having won its last game from 2011 (beat Illinois 27-7). This is the second straight year that Minnesota enters a season having won its final game from the year prior, as it beat Iowa 27-24 to end the 2010 season. The wins to end 2011 and 2010 are the first time since 2000 and 2001 that Minnesota finished two straight seasons with wins against Big Ten teams. The Gophers also ended the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons with wins, but all three wins came in bowl games against non-conference teams.
Click on the Game Notes link above for Minnesota's complete game notes.