Penn State vs Minnesota Preview
ComRadio's own Mitch Stewart, Zack Seyko, Brian McLaughlin and Travis Sutton break down this week's matchup between the Nittany Lions and the Minnesota Gophers. Coverage begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on ComRadio.
The Nittany Lions are hosting the undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend, but don’t let that scare you. The Gophers are undefeated in the same way that Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” was a Billboard top ten song for nine weeks; the competition just wasn’t that great.
Minnesota has beaten the Oregon State Beavers, the Indiana State Sycamores (If your mascot is a tree you’re not Stanford, you’re probably bad at football), and the Colorado State Rams.
Although the competition has not been impressive, the Gophers have demonstrated consistency. They won two of their games by a touchdown, using a balanced run and pass attack.
Their primary offensive weapon is sophomore running back Rodney Smith, who has almost 300 rushing yards this season.
In the Gophers’ passing game, senior quarterback Mitch Leidner has made it clear who his favorite target is. Leading the receiving corps with 17 receptions (11 more than the next closest Gopher receiver) and 252 receiving yards (186 more yards than the next closest), senior Drew Wolitarsky will be a player that the Penn State secondary will need to highlight.
As for the dear old state, this game is carrying much more weight than a tally in the win/loss column. Coach James Franklin is sitting on a seat that is beginning to singe his khakis. As unfair as that may seem since returning Penn State football to its former glory is no simple task with the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions following the scandal, Penn State’s passionate and ever-faithful fan base is becoming critical of Franklin’s coaching, recruiting, and record.
Penn State is 2-2 going into this game. The schedule is littered with serious competition for the rest of the season, making this evenly matched game against Minnesota a must-win for the Lions.
On offense, quarterback Trace McSorley will be trying to spread the feathers that Michigan severely ruffled. Before last Saturday’s game, McSorley was the leading passer in the Big Ten. After putting up only 121 passing yards against the dynamic Michigan defense, he dropped to the conference’s third leading passer.
Saquon Barkley wasn’t able to find a hole in the Michigan defense either, only putting up 59 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Golden Gophers’ defense will look to limit the Lions’ passing game, as Michigan was able to, and focus their efforts on stopping the Blue and White’s capable running game.
Penn State's defense is the biggest question mark heading into Saturday. Linebacker U has a diminished enrollment after having four players injured (Nyeem Wartman-White, Brandon Bell, Jason Cabinda, and Jan Johnson). Look for defensive coordinator Brent Pry to mix up his blitzing packages and formations in order to mask the ailing linebacking corps.
The game is set to start at 3:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. Penn State is a three-point favorite over Minnesota, but, for the sake of Franklin’s job security and to gain momentum heading into the schedule’s most pivotal period, the Nittany Lions will be intent on surpassing the spread.
Paddy Cotter is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.