Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
One of the biggest knocks on former Minnesota head coach Glen Mason was his approach to nonconference scheduling.
The Golden Gophers repeatedly breezed through one-ply Septembers before tripping up in Big Ten play.
Those days are over.
Continuing a trend of more aggressive scheduling, Minnesota announced a home-and-home series against national powerhouse USC. The Gophers will host USC at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 18, 2010, before opening the 2011 season at the L.A. Coliseum (Sept. 3). Minnesota canceled a home-and-home series against Washington State to make room for the Trojans.
"Playing against arguably one of the best football teams of this decade really indicates the type of challenge coach [Tim] Brewster and our football program wants to take on," Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said in a statement. "I think this series should really excite our fans, our players and our potential recruits."
Minnesota will face Air Force and Cal next fall and begin a series against Colorado in 2012.
"As I've said from the beginning, I want to upgrade our nonconference schedule to help with our national recruiting base," Brewster said in a statement. "I've said that I would like to play a marquee BCS opponent on national television one time a year. I'm excited about the series with USC and would like to commend associate athletic director Marc Ryan on his ability to schedule those games."
The school also announced several other changes to future schedules.
Minnesota will host South Dakota in 2010 and North Dakota State in 2011.
Minnesota moved its 2010 game against UNLV to 2012. The Gophers will open the 2012 season in Las Vegas against the Rebels.
The Gophers' 2012 contest at Air Force has been canceled.
San Jose State will visit Minnesota in 2013 and 2014. Western Illinois will visit in 2013.
Minnesota will host South Dakota State and Ohio in 2015.