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Hoese guides Gophers football team to season-opening win

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- Duane Bennett rushed for a career-high 187 yards and Jon Hoese scored three touchdowns just days after deciding to make the trip to lead Minnesota to a grinding season-opening 24-17 win over Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.

Bennett becomes the first 100-yard rusher for the Gophers since 2008 and dominated the Blue Raiders over Minnesota's two game-clinching drives. He rushed for 64 yards as the Gophers held the ball for 15:41 on their way to a field goal and Hoese's 1-yard dive with 3:09 left.

Hoese's father had a severe stroke last week and the fullback didn't decide to join Minnesota on the trip until early this week. He kept coming up with big plays, including a fumble recovery on the kickoff after his final touchdown that iced the victory.

Bennett's rushing total is the most for Minnesota since 2006. He opened the game with a 32-yard run and never let up.

The Gophers host South Dakota next Saturday in Minneapolis for its next game.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota's big three football rivalries have been preserved in the Big Ten's divisional split, giving the Gophers their greatest wish for the 12-team alignment.

The conference announced Wednesday Minnesota will join Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern in one division. Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana are in the other.

That means the Gophers will play Iowa and Michigan for their trophy games each season. They'll also maintain the annual matchup with Wisconsin, as part of the inter-division guarantee to keep one pair of rivals playing each year.

Coach Tim Brewster says "everything else on top of that is a plus."

Minnesota will host Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois in the revised 2011 schedule.