#119 University of Minnesota Golden Gophersvs.#120 Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions
Written by Chuck D
When and Where: Saturday, Oct. 1, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa. 3:30pm EDT
Although the schedule has not been the most challenging, Minnesota is still off to a 3-0 start. They put their undefeated record on the line when they open their Big Ten slate against the Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. PSU is batting .500 on the season after last weekend’s 49-10 defeat in Ann Arbor in their Big Ten opener. The two teams have met 13 times previously, with the first encounter coming back in 1993. Overall Penn State leads the series 8-5 and has won three of the last four, but it was the Golden Gopherswho won the last matchup, a 24-10 victory in Minneapolis back in 2013.
Minnesota opened the season with a seven point victory over Oregon State, their first victory over a PAC-12 opponent since 1987. The Wins over the Beavers, Indiana State, and CSU improved the Gophers record at TCF Bank Stadium to 14-1 vs. non-conference opponents since 2012. Overall the team is 21-10 at home during that same span. The 31-24 victory over Colorado State marked the fist time that Minnesota has scored at least 30 points in each of their first three games since 2008. Rodney Smith led the way on the ground in the victory over the Rams, running for two touchdowns and 99 yards. Overall the team rushed for 243 yards and four scores. Quarterback Mitch Leidner missed on just four of his 20 pass attempts and threw for 174 yards. The team as a whole had 417 yards of offense and converted eight of their 14 third and fourth down attempts. The competition stiffens slightly when they roll into University Park. These two squads compete for what is known as the “Governor’s Victory Bell,” as the Golden Gophers were Penn State‘s first conference opponent upon joining the B1G in 2003.
After a 20-point season opening home win against Kent State, Penn State suffered a tough three-point defeat on the road in Pittsburgh. The following week, they gutted out a 34-27 win over in-state rivals, Temple. Last week, however, things imploded in the 49-10 loss to the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions were down 21-0 before they even knew what was going on, just 16 minutes into the ball game. After falling down 28-0, PSU put a drive together, stalled, and brought the field goal unit out on the field. Head coach James Franklin called a timeout, obviously to rethink the decision, then sent the special teams back out to make it a 28-3 game. Nobody is saying Franklin is on the hot seat . . . yet, but expectations were certainly a lot higher when he came from Vanderbilt, the perennial cellar dweller in the SEC which he led to back-to-back nine win seasons. Penn state is averaging just 101.3 yards on the ground per game, ranking the Lions No. 122 in FBS.
Penn State is:
The Gophers are riding a little bit of momentum into the great state of PA, while Penn State has to be a bit butt hurt after the shellacking they just took at the hands of Michigan. This should be a competitive and low scoring contest, but right now Minnesota is playing the better football and will be downright hungry for a 4-0 start and their first victory in league play.
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Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.