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GOPHERS SET FOR 70TH SUN BOWL
The University of Minnesota has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2003 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The Golden Gophers finished the season 9-3 overall, and will play the Oregon Ducks at 1 p.m. (CST) at Sun Bowl Stadium. This will be Minnesota's fourth appearance in a bowl game in the past five seasons, marking the first time in school history that a Gopher team has accomplished that feat. Minnesota last faced Oregon in the 1999 Sun Bowl.
BREAKING DOWN OREGON
The Ducks finished the season 8-4 overall with a 5-3 record in the Pac-10 Conference. Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti is in his 14th year as a head coach and his ninth with the Ducks (96-58-2 overall; 75-33-0 at Oregon). The key to the Ducks' offense is their passing game which is ranked 38th in the nation and led by sophomore quarterback Kellen Clemens. Clemens completed 150-of-262 passes for 2037 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2003. The ground game features sophomore tailback Terrance Whitehead, who tallied 702 yards with six touchdowns. At receiver, Oregon turns to their dynamic duo of senior Samie Parker and sophomore Demetrius Williams, each of whom registered over 800 yards receiving this season. Defensively, the Ducks are led by senior linebacker Kevin Mitchell, who was the only Oregon player with at least 100 tackles. Mitchell accumulated 103 tackles in 2003, while junior defensive tackle Igor Olshansky rang up 15 sacks.
This will be the fourth meeting between the Gophers and the Ducks. Minnesota leads the series 2-1. The Gophers defeated the Ducks at Memorial Stadium, 14-7, in 1961 and 10-7 in 1975. Oregon won the Sun Bowl against Minnesota, 24-20, in 1999.
GOPHERS IN BOWL GAMES
This year's Sun Bowl marks the seventh different bowl and the ninth bowl all-time that the Gophers have gone to in the school's history. Minnesota is 3-5 all-time in bowl games. The Gophers lost their inaugural bowl game against Washington in the 1961 Rose Bowl, 17-7, despite being named national champions prior to the bowl. The Maroon and Gold would bounce back the following year to win the Rose Bowl 21-3 over UCLA. The Gophers didn't return to a bowl game until 1977 when they lost to Maryland 17-7 in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. In 1985 they downed Clemson 20-13 in the Independence Bowl, in Shreveport, La. They lost to Tennessee 21-14 the following season in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. The Gophers wouldn't return to a bowl game until 1999, when they lost 24-20 to Oregon at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The Gophers made it to bowls in back-to-back seasons as they appeared in the 2000 Micronpc.com Bowl, losing to North Carolina State 38-30. Minnesota won its first bowl game since 1985 last season by defeating Arkansas 29-14 in the Music City Bowl.
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