clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Minnesota Football: 2003 Gophers beat Penn State in Happy Valley #TBT

New, comments

The year was 2003, Glen Mason was Minnesota’s Coach and a special season was shaping up after a 24-14 victory at Beaver Stadium.

Barber 2003 vs Penn St
U of M

This is a classic article from Sid! In the title “Michigan Showdown” in retrospect is the saddest thing I have read in awhile. With the benefit of hindsight the victory over the Nittany Lions and the next weeks win over Northwestern represent the high water mark for the Glen Mason years. Without the ‘what if’s’ of the Michigan game, the 2003 season, with a Sun Bowl victory and 10-3 record isn’t anything a Gopher fan should be that sad about. Also noteworthy the 2003 Penn State victory was the last win in Happy Valley (only playing there 2 other times since).

Article by Sid Hartman September 28, 2003 in the Star Tribune.

'U' victory will set up Michigan showdown

The Gophers did get a big break late in the first half when, with Penn State on the Gophers 6-yard line, Paul Nixon tipped a pass by Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson and Gophers linebacker Terrance Campbell intercepted it. Television replays showed the ball hit the ground, causing Penn State coach Joe Paterno to run onto the field in protest. The Gophers, leading 17-14, ran out the clock.

The Gophers lost 16-15 at Penn State in 1997 on an official's bad call. Penn State won 27-17 at the Metrodome in 1998, but since then the Gophers have won three in a row - 24-23 at then-No. 1 Penn State in 1999, 25-16 at the Metrodome in 2000 and then Saturday.

This isn't one of the powerhouse Penn State teams, but Robinson gave the Gophers fits when he came in to replace the injured Zack Mills. In fact, the worst thing for the Gophers came when Mills was injured. Robinson turned the game around. He led Penn State to the Gophers 13 in the closing seconds before throwing incomplete passes on third and fourth downs.

The Gophers football program has lacked fan interest in recent years, but it might have hit the big turning point Saturday in a 20- 14 victory over Penn State.

Three home nonconference games - against Tulsa, Troy State and Louisiana-Lafayette - drew an average of 22,262 at the Metrodome.

Now the stage is set. After this Saturday's game at Northwestern, the Gophers will play Michigan on Oct. 10 at the Metrodome, the most important game that Glen Mason has coached in his seven seasons at Minnesota.

Of course, the Gophers have to win at Northwestern. But that shouldn't be a problem. And it will be to the advantage of the Gophers that Michigan has to play at Iowa this Saturday.

The Gophers should be 6-0 going into the Michigan game.

Mason and his coaching staff might not be happy after they study the films of the Penn State victory. The Nittany Lions rolled up 419 total yards to the Gophers' 321 and controlled the ball for most of the second and third quarters.

But the Gophers won. Penn State won the battle of the statistics, but not the game.

The first two touchdowns might have come too easily for the Gophers, as they took a 14-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. A 12-play, 99-yard drive was almost too easy for the Gophers, who had a hard time for the rest of the first half.

Running back Marion Barber III was outstanding for the Gophers with 134 rushing yards.

The Gophers did get a big break late in the first half when, with Penn State on the Gophers 6-yard line, Paul Nixon tipped a pass by Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson and Gophers linebacker Terrance Campbell intercepted it. Television replays showed the ball hit the ground, causing Penn State coach Joe Paterno to run onto the field in protest. The Gophers, leading 17-14, ran out the clock.

The amazing thing is, Mason has the edge on Paterno and Penn State over the past five meetings.

The Gophers lost 16-15 at Penn State in 1997 on an official's bad call. Penn State won 27-17 at the Metrodome in 1998, but since then the Gophers have won three in a row - 24-23 at then-No. 1 Penn State in 1999, 25-16 at the Metrodome in 2000 and then Saturday.

This isn't one of the powerhouse Penn State teams, but Robinson gave the Gophers fits when he came in to replace the injured Zack Mills. In fact, the worst thing for the Gophers came when Mills was injured. Robinson turned the game around. He led Penn State to the Gophers 13 in the closing seconds before throwing incomplete passes on third and fourth downs.

But the Gophers should get credit for a tough road victory. And if they win at Northwestern, the Metrodome could be full for the Michigan game.