All I know is that the Gophers are 5-2 in their last seven games against the Nittany Lions. Looks like Iowa and Minnesota enjoy dominance over Paterno's boys. In all seriousness, this is clearly a massive challenge but Penn State has their holes as well. If the Gophers can take advantage of a few things while not getting taken advantage of, maybe we can pull out this upset.
- Special Teams - more and more this appears to be the one area that the Gophers have a clear advantage. It is more than just relying on the hope of getting a touchdown out of Troy Stoudermire. The field position battle will be huge. Kickoff coverage needs to force Penn State into 70+ drives all day (assuming we get more than a couple kick-offs) and Stoudermire/Thomas getting the Gophers to the 40 on a regular basis will be significant. And a touchdown out of the special forces would obviously be HUGE.
- Weber/Decker vs. the Penn State secondary - the Nittany Lion's secondary isn't going to be the best secondary we face all year. Decker will be their defensive focus but I'm not convinced they'll be able to stop him. What will stop him is mediocre play from his quarterback so offensively the game may rest on Adam Weber. He has to get Decker the ball and more importantly he needs to find other receivers if Decker is blanketed. I fully expect JoPa to go with the "don't let Eric Decker beat us" strategy. Like I said I'm not convinced they'll be able to stop him without selling the farm. But when they do put too much emphasis on Decker, Weber HAS to find other guys to hurt them.
- Slow down the PSU Offense - Penn State is very talented offensively. I'm not expecting to shut them down or force them to do anything. What we have to do is make them earn every yard they get. Force them into as many third downs as possible. This is kind of what happened in the Air Force game and the Cal game (sans the first quarter). Make them earn third down conversions, sooner or later they will stop themselves with a penalty or the percentages will just catch up with them. Big plays will kill us, make them work for their drives and points.
All of this HAS to be done (and more) if we want to stay in this. The Penn State front 7 is VERY good so I'm not expecting a strong game on the ground. But their secondary is young, their offensive line is young and they haven't exactly put all of their talent together yet. The Gophers need their most complete game of the year but this one isn't completely out of reach.