The Golden Gophers, ranked 17th in the CFP Playoff rankings upset #4 Penn State 31-26 to remain undefeated. Tanner Morgan played outstanding, leading the Gopher offense passing 18/20, 339 yards and three touchdowns. On the receiving end of Morgan was Rashod Bateman who had 7 catches for 203 yards and a huge 1st quarter opening touchdown.
Big plays were going to be a key factor in today’s game and the first quarter was full of them. On Penn State’s opening drive Sean Clifford took a deep shot down the middle of the field that was intercepted by Antoine Winfield Jr at the 5. Five plays later, Morgan finds Bateman who sprints down the sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. And just like that the Gophers took a 7-0 lead on the #4 team in the country.
Penn State answered with a big play of their own when Journey Brown got loose for a 45-yard, game tying touchdown.
Minnesota responds with 28 yards on their next offensive play which kickstarted a 10-play, 87 yard touchdown drive. This time it was Chris Autman-Bell who took a WR screen 22 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. And Minnesota led the rest of the way.
After a Penn State field goal near the end of the first quarter, it was a couple more big plays by the Gophers to open up the lead. Winfield Jr. with his second interception of the day (7th on the season). Setting up a 38-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Tyler Johnson. The Gopher defense forced a three and out, the offense drove for a field goal and eventually a 24-13 lead at halftime.
The second half was much more the heavyweight fight that was expected. The Gopher offense struggled against a Penn State defense that made some second half adjustments. The Minnesota defense contained big plays, forced third downs but allowed Penn State to dominate time of possession as they crawled back into the game.
Following a Shannon Brooks fumble, Penn State scores a touchdown late in the third quarter to make it 24-19. A one-score game with the 4th quarter ensuing. And that eerie feeling begins to set in for Gopher fans.
Minnesota answered with their lone touchdown drive of the second half to push it back to 31-19. This time it was Seth Green plunging in from the 1. The two-score lead with 4:54 turned out to be absolutely critical.
Penn State takes the ball 63 yards on 8 plays and scores while just taking 2:28 off the clock. It was another Brown touchdown, from 6-yards out. Now 3:49 remains and Minnesota clings to a 31-26 lead.
A first down for the Gophers wouldn’t allow them to kneel it out, but it would ensure Penn State has to go a long way with just seconds remaining. They did not get that first down, in fact they moved backwards before having to punt.
And now is when every Gopher fan’s stomach sink as Penn State gets the ball back, down 5 and 2:40 to go.
Right now, there isn’t a Gopher fan in the state who wasn’t thinking “here we go again.”
With the ball, the Nittany Lions drive. Sean Clifford, who struggled for much of the game, starts connecting going 4/4 to begin the drive. These four completions, including a 49-yard strike, gets Penn State to the Minnesota 11. First down rush for 1 yard and it is 2nd and 9 from the 10. The next play was crucial and likley changed the outcome of the game. Clfford completes a pass to Brown, who takes the ball down to the 2 yard line. But an offensive pass interference is called on Daniel George pushing PSU back to the 25. Second down was an incomplete pass.
Now third and 24 from the 25 and Jordan Howden makes an interception in the end zone to seal the game.
Minnesota kneels to end the game, sparking a rush to the Governor’s Victory Bell and this...
A win at home over a top 5 opponent for the first time since 1977 and the Golden Gophers are 9-0 for the first time since 1904. Knocking off an undefeated and #4 Penn State team and goes a long way towards wrapping up the Big Ten West and it is huge for a potential invitation to the Rose Bowl.
But there are still three games remaining and up next is a trip to Iowa City where the Gophers have not won since 1999. An amazing atmosphere today at TCF Bank Stadium and an elite win.