Game Time: 11:00 AM
Radio: 100.3 FM, 1130 AM
Minnesota is looking for their first Big Ten, 4-game win streak since 1973 and they are hosting a solid Penn State team that has been a little inconsistent this year.
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Penn State Nittany Lions|
|Points / Game||31.4||29.8|
|3rd Down %||42.6%||33.1%
|Key Offensive Player to Watch||David Cobb||Allen Robinson|
|3rd Down %||40.9%||35.3%|
|Key Defensive Player to Watch||DaQuan Jones|
Turnovers - In the 3-game-win streak the Gophers have not turned the ball over, not once. We have forced a handful but the team isn't winning because they are generating an abnormal amount of turnovers. They are putting themselves in position to win because they aren't giving the ball away. This will be important again. I'm not saying that zero turnovers is the requirement to win, but no bad turnovers and make sure we balance out anything we give away by taking as well. I don't think turnovers are a key to win, but they might be a key to not losing.
Score in the Red Zone - The Gophers are scoring a remarkable 96.7% of the time in the red zone. 30 trips inside the 20 have resulted in 29 scores, and most importantly 22 of those 29 scores have been for touchdowns. Forcing Indiana into FGs instead of TDs was a huge key last week and the Gophers continuing to score touchdowns is really important.
Forget Allen Robinson and stop the rest of the offense - Initially my key was going to be to limit Robinson. Then I looked at Penn State's results compared to Robinson's production. Looking at 6 of their 7 games (I did not count Eastern Michigan who was by far their worst opponent), it turns out that in their losses Robinson has much bigger games. When they win he is more limited. Penn State has lost to Indiana, Ohio State and Central Florida. In those games Robinson has averaged 11 catches, 163 yards and 1.3 touchdowns. When they win (Michigan, Illinois, Kent State and Syracuse) he has averaged 6.5 catches, 106 yards and has 1 total touchdown in those games. My 2-bit analysis tells me that when the offense is more balanced they tend to operate at a higher level. Clearly we cannot let Robinson score three or four times on big plays. But if he gets 12 catches for 175 yards while the rest of the offense is held in check; I like our chances.
There you have it, this should be a fun game where the Gophers have an opportunity to continue to make their mark on this Big Ten season. At the start of the season we wanted to see improvement, get back to a bowl and notch a signature win. All of that has been accomplished in the face of some adversity, now we are seeking a better bowl and more wins. Nothing wrong with a little fandome greed!