Mighty Minnesota: Gophers row past Penn State, improve to 9-0

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Minnesota's start was written off as the Gophers had yet to beat a ranked team this season and had faced a string of Big Ten teams forced to use backup quarterbacks. Minnesota made Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford uncomfortable from the jump while its offense used a balanced approach to move the ball all over the vaunted PSU defense to the tune of 460 yards.

The College Football Playoff selection committee showed its skepticism with Minnesota by ranking it all the way down at No. 17 despite an 8-0 record. His receivers, Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, each caught seven passes, Bateman going for a whopping 203 yards and Johnson 104, plus touchdowns. K.J. Hamler muffed the punt when a teammate backed into him, and though the Nittany Lions recovered, they were pushed back to their 28-yard line. (11) intercepts the ball intended for Penn State wide receiver Justin Shorter (6) during a game Saturday in Minneapolis. Two plays later, however, came the drive killer for Penn State.

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WORST DROP Desperately needing to make a play while backed up against their own end zone, down 21-10 in the second quarter, Clifford's pinpoint pass to Daniel George on third-and-10 went unrewarded. Howden slid in front to snag the game-saving interception.

Any more questions about that "soft" Gopher football schedule? Journey Brown capped it off with a 45-yard touchdown rush and Penn State tied the game at 7-7 with 10:47 remaining in the first quarter. Chris Williamson batted down Clifford's fourth-down throw into the end zone on the ensuing drive by Penn State, giving the Gophers another opportunity to drain the clock.

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It's time to take Minnesota seriously. They will maintain a two-game lead in the Big Ten West over the victor of this afternoon's Iowa-Wisconsin game with three games to play.

That's awesome for the Golden Gophers, but it didn't seem like their top-50 offense would be prepared to cut through Penn State's top-10 defense. Corners and safeties responsible alike, the Nittany Lion secondary simply could not figure it out against the Gophers throughout the afternoon, especially on critical third downs.

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Minnesota: Plays at Iowa next Saturday.

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