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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Gopher gridders begin 2014 season today

MINNEAPOLIS --  The University of Minnesota football team is set for its regular season football opener tonight against Eastern Illinois. 

Minnesota is set to improve on a 8-5 record from last season.  Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky and defensive end Michael Amaefula are the only two players listed on the injury report, although left tackle Ben Lauer has missed some practice time this fall camp and could also be questionable for tonight.  Eastern Illinois was 12-2 last season.  This is the earliest date either team has ever opened a season.  Kickoff from TCF Stadium is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on BTN.


The Minnesota Vikings put the finishing touches on their 2014 preseason schedule tonight in Nashville.  The team will look to wrap up a perfect 4-0 exhibition slate with a tilt against the Tennessee Titans.  After the game the Vikes will have until Saturday to cut down from 75 players to 53 to start the regular season.  Kickoff from LP Field is slated for 7 p.m.  


The Kansas City Royals used a six-run eighth inning to knock off the Twins 6-1 at Kauffman Stadium.  Billy Butler hit a two-run single and Salvador Perez added a two-run triple in the victory.  Wade Davis earned the win in relief after Liam Hendriks tossed seven innings of one-run ball for the no-decision.  The Royals have taken four of their last six contests.  Oswaldo Arcia plated the only run for Minnesota, which has dropped four straight.  Phil Hughes took the loss after allowing four runs in seven-and-two-thirds innings.  The two clubs wrap up their three-game set with a contest tonight.  The Royals are looking for the sweep.


The Minnesota Lynx will meet the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Western Conference Finals starting tomorrow in Arizona.  Minnesota swept San Antonio two-games-to-none in the first round to advance, while Phoenix did the same to Los Angeles.  The Mercury won three of the four meetings in the regular season.  The Lynx and Mercury had the top two records in the WNBA this season.  Minnesota is the defending champion and has been to three consecutive WNBA Finals.  Tomorrow's game starts at 9 p.m.


Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is responding to comments by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor that he may be a scapegoat in Cleveland.  Love told ESPN's "Mike & Mike" that emotions are running high after his trade from Minnesota and Taylor should be focusing on his players.  Taylor told ESPN Radio 1500 AM in Minnesota that Love won't get a lot of credit if the Cavs win but will get the blame if they don't.


The AHL and Iowa Wild have announced their 2014-15 regular season schedule.  The Iowa Wild begin the year October 10th at San Antonio.  The slate is divided into 38 home games and 38 road games.  The first home game is a week later against Milwaukee.  The Iowa Wild are the AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.


Stan Wawrinka is on to the third round of the U.S. Open after a victory over Thomaz Bellucci.  This year's Australian Open winner took down Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 to advance.  Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych and seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov moved on to the second round of play with straight set wins.  On the women's side, two of the three top-five seeds in action advanced while fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska was ousted in straight sets.  Second-seeded Simona Halep moved on with a 6-2, 6-1 victory, and fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova advanced by winning the final two sets after losing the first.  Top-10 seeds Angelique Kerber, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki also got through to the third round.  Venus Williams also moved on.  


There's just two more races before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.  Drivers head to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend before heading to Richmond Saturday, September 6th.  A total of 12 spots have been clinched with drivers winning races, leaving four left.