USC opponent preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Coach: Jerry Kill

2010: 3-9 (2-6 in the Big Ten)

Returning starters: Six (offense), eight (defense)

Following appearances in the Insight Bowl in 2008 and 2009, Minnesota fell on hard times last season, finishing with three wins and a coaching change. Now, new coach Jerry Kill, hired in December, looks to rescue the Golden Gophers from the Big Ten cellar. Kill’s first challenge in Minneapolis remains how to replace the program’s all-time leading passer in Adam Weber, who graduated last spring after throwing 20 touchdowns as a senior in 2010.

Taking over for Weber under center will likely be junior MarQueis Gray, who moves from wide receiver to quarterback.

The hope is that Gray, regarded as a fantastic athlete, will provide a spark for a team that ranked 89th nationally in scoring with 23.2 points per game. Running backs DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett also return. Both accumulated over 500 rushing yards apiece last season.