The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 8-2 and have their first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 1973!
You may recall when the Gophers hosted Nebraska and the Cornhuskers jumped out to a 10-0 lead. At that point the script was flipped and the Gophers dominated the rest of the game cruising to a 34-23 win. Today it was Minnesota who jumped out to a 0-10 lead but it was a lead they would never relinquish. The Gophers outgained, outplayed and most importantly outscored the Nittany Lions 10-24, earning their 8th win of the season.
Before we talk about the actual game, can we just appreciate the Gopher program right now? Gopher football is not only playing like a legitimate Big Ten team but they are a lot of fun to watch. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball, they play with resiliency, they don't beat themselves and they are playing with confidence. What is not to love about Gopher football right now?
The Gophers showed a consistent effort for the fourth week in a row. This team, once gain, established their offensive identity and executed their gameplan. This isn't a great Penn State team but this team is not void of talent, and the Gophers beat them on both sides of the ball.
The Gophers were the first to strike today with a FG after Penn State gifted them a fumble on their first play of the day. The Minnesota defense then forced a punt but Penn State's Alex Butterworth pinned them on the 4-yard line. The Gophers didn't flinch and marched 96 yards for a touchdown. That drive included a 3rd down conversion Isaac Fruechte, a 4th down conversion to Maxx Williams for 24 yards and was capped by a David Cobb 1-yard plunge. 96 yards, 15 plays and 8:10 taken off the clock.
Penn State responded with a quick touchdown to get back within three, 7-10. But that was as close as they got. The Gophers scored on their next two drives. 13 plays, 65 yards for the first one and 11 plays, 74 yards on the second one to score just prior to halftime.
Nobody scored in the second half. Penn State drove in the 4th quarter down to the Gopher 1 and was surely going to make it a one-score game. But a botched snap and fumble; recovered by James Manuel. This is something that typically happens "to" Minnesota. But it happened and the Gopher offense got a few first downs and ran out the clock.
I'll say it again, what is not to love about Gopher Football right now? This Gopher team was impressive today and they continue to get significant contributions from underclassmen. Philip Nelson has settled into his role as QB1, he's a sophomore. Maxx Williams is a legit Big Ten weapon, he is a freshman. Donovahn Jones and Drew Wolitarsky are becoming regular offensive weapons, both are true freshmen. Josh Campion is consistent and very good at RT, sophomore. Eric Murray had a very nice game at corner, he's a sophomore. Theiran Cockran with a huge sack in the second half; sophomore. This team is getting better every week and they are a lot of fun to watch. What is not to love about Gopher football right now?
"We're a young football team and our best days are still ahead of us. I believe that." Jerry Kill.
David Cobb had another great game running the ball for the Gophers. His fourth straight 100-yard rushing game. The junior finished with 139 yards including individual runs of 39 and 44 in the second half. Cobb is now just 31 yards shy of 1,000 and was asked about that milestone.
"It's easy to look at the running backs and the running back's production but again, our O-line and our tight ends and our receivers are willing to block. And they want to see me get it just as bad as I want to get it. When you have teammates like that care about you and want to see you do good. And then you know, lets go get it."
This was another solid win in a streak of solid wins. Four in a row in in the Big Ten is uncharted territory for most Gopher fans. We have a bye week now to rest, heal and prepare for Wisconsin. Getting the Axe would be a tremendous cap on what has already been an exciting season. What is not to love about Gopher football right now?
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- Minnesota Golden Gopher Basketball: Your 2013-14 Preview of Gopher Basketball