No. 17 Minnesota proves the doubters wrong, upsets No. 4 Penn State

No. 17 Minnesota proves the doubters wrong, upsets No. 4 Penn State

Penn State was a slim 6.5-point favorite on the road against Minnesota, as both teams entered Saturday's Big Ten matchup with flawless 8-0 records.

Minnesota is 8-0 for the first time since 1941, but everyone underestimated them - from us to the College Football Playoff committee - in large part because of its schedule so far.

It was a 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Bateman that opened the scoring for the Gophers.

Most of those were to Bateman, who made seven scene-stealing catches for 203 yards and a touchdown. Penn State cut the lead to 31-26 with 3:49 to play and got the ball back after forcing a three-and-out.

The college football spotlight this weekend has been aimed at Alabama, where LSU's visit will mark the first regular-season meeting of the top two teams in the Associated Press poll since those same teams played eight years ago. That was the most yards in a game at TCF Bank Stadium of any player.

Clifford led Penn State on an impressive 47-yard drive into Gopher territory, but Jordan Howden picked off the redshirt sophomore to put the game away. A sure first down and a counter to Minnesota's building momentum, George's drop proved to be a costly incompletion for the Nittany Lions. Both were inside the 10-yard line. Forcing the Gophers into repeated third-and-long situations, Penn State allowed first downs of 21- and 36-yards and, most critically the extension of a possession on a desperation heave thanks to a John Reid pass interference. With the penalty uncalled, running back Journey Brown went into the end zone for a touchdown that kept Penn State in the game. The Gophers have touchdowns on all 19 of their goal-to-go possessions this season. The Gophers have a newer prize to play for against Penn State, too, the much-less-celebrated Governor's Victory Bell that the Nittany Lions repossessed with a 29-26 overtime win in their last meeting in 2016 to take a 9-5 lead in the series. They will maintain a two-game lead in the Big Ten West over the victor of this afternoon's Iowa-Wisconsin game with three games to play.

Penn State could fall behind Minnesota, which will certainly climb into the top 10 when the next rankings come out on Sunday. The Nittany Lions, led by linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, have the second-stingiest run defense in the FBS with an average of 68.4 yards given up per game on the ground.

James Franklin has built a great program at Penn State, but there's a big difference between great and elite.

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