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5 Things You Need to Know: Minnesota at UNLV

08/27/2012, 2:59pm CDT
By U of M Athletic Communications

Jerry Kill's second season at Minnesota kicks-off Thursday night.

When Minnesota plays at UNLV it will mark the first time that the Gophers have played a game in the state of Nevada.

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.

A Gopher Victory would ...
• give head coach Jerry Kill his first season-opening win at the University of Minnesota
• give Jerry Kill his first road win at Minnesota
• be Minnesota’s first road win since it beat Illinois 38-34 in on Nov. 13, 2010.
• snap a five-game road losing streak by Minnesota
• be Minnesota’s ninth season-opening win in its last 11 years
• improve Minnesota to 6-2 all-time against the Mountain West Conference
• improve Minnesota to 5-2 all-time in games contested in August
• be the program’s 641st victory
• mark the first back-to-back victories for Minnesota under coach Kill.

A Gopher Loss would ...
• be Minnesota’s sixth straight defeat on the road
• be the first for Minnesota against a Mountain West Conference team since Aug. 30, 1997, when the Gophers lost at
• mark the first time that Minnesota has lost season-opening games in consecutive seasons since 1993-94
• be the program’s 479th loss

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Tag(s): Gopher Football