NCAAF PREVIEWS |

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview and Predictions 11-09-2019


No. 13 Minnesota has not started a season 9-0 in 115 years, and it would need to knock off fellow unbeaten and fifth-ranked Penn State in a mammoth Big Ten matchup Saturday at home to achieve that goal. "This is what college football is all about," Golden Gophers coach P.J. Fleck told reporters. "You've got two 8-0 football teams, two top-13 teams playing at TCF Bank Stadium ... this is what it's all about."

Fleck's squad is 8-0 for the first time since 1941 after routing Maryland 52-10 two Saturdays ago and it owns a two-game lead in the Big Ten West. The Nittany Lions are the first ranked opponent to appear on Minnesota's schedule and they are looking to go 9-0 for the first time since 2008. Penn State, which entered the first College Football Playoff rankings at fourth, also had a week off after a 28-7 win at Michigan State and it enters this one tied with Ohio State atop the Big Ten East, although an upcoming matchup with the Buckeyes won't mean as much if the Lions cannot solve the improving Gophers. "As the year has got on, like good programs and coaches do, they keep getting better," Penn State coach James Franklin told reporters of Minnesota. "They just keep getting better. They know how to win."

TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Penn State -7

ABOUT PENN STATE (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten): Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford is second in the Big Ten in passing yards (1,931) and touchdowns (20), four of which came in the win over the Spartans. Freshman Noah Cain leads a fleet of running backs with 350 yards on the ground and six scores, and Franklin indicated Cain should be good to go after suffering an apparent injury versus Michigan State. The nation's second-ranked scoring defense (9.6 points allowed per game) continues to be led by sophomore linebacker Micah Parsons with 57 tackles, while defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney both have a team-high 5.5 sacks.

ABOUT MINNESOTA (8-0, 5-0): Senior Rodney Smith has rushed for at least 100 yards in all five Big Ten games and boasts six touchdowns in that span for the league's third-ranked ground game (204.5 yards per game). He led an attack that had possession for over 42 minutes in the rout of Maryland and kept things relatively easy for sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan, who leads the Big Ten with 10.2 yards per completion. Sophomore Rashod Bateman (644 receiving yards, six TDs) and senior Tyler Johnson (626, seven) are the top receivers in that big-play passing game.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Golden Gophers sophomore defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. is tied for second among FBS players with five interceptions - three over the last two games.

2. Nittany Lions WR KJ Hamler sits just behind Bateman and Johnson with 620 receiving yards and is tied atop the Big Ten with eight receiving TDs.

3. Penn State owns a 9-5 series advantage, winning the last meeting in 2016 on an overtime TD run by Saquon Barkley.

Prediction

Free Daily Lock Pick: NCAAF: Toledo vs. Buffalo - November 20th - (100% Confidence Release)

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Stadium

TCF Bank Stadium
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Capacity: 50,805

Last Injuries

Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Michael Lantz

    Leg
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Lantz has missed the last two games with leg tightness, and it is unknown if he will be available for the clash against Northwestern on Saturday.

  • Tanner Morgan

    Concussion
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Morgan left the previous game to be evaluated for concussion-like symptoms, and it is unknown if he will clear protocol prior to Saturday's contest versus Northwestern.

  • Kamal Martin

    Knee
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Martin has sat out the last two games with a right knee injury, and it is uncertain if he will suit up Saturday against Iowa.

Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Cam Sullivan-Brown

    Undisclosed
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Sullivan-Brown has sat out the last four games due to an unspecified injury, and it is unclear if he will face Ohio State on Saturday.

  • KJ Hamler

    Upper Body
    Prob Sat | probable

    Hamler left the last game with an upper-body injury, but is projected to dress for Saturday's matchup against Ohio State.

  • Noah Cain

    Leg
    Prob Sat | probable

    Cain has sat out the previous two games due to a leg injury, but it is projected that he will take the field versus Ohio State on Saturday.

  • Antonio Shelton

    Suspension
    Elig Sat | out

    Shelton has been suspended one game for violating the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy but is expected to be reinstated in time for Saturday's matchup against Indiana.

  • John Reid

    Arm
    Prob Sat | probable

    Reid left the last game with a left arm injury, but he is expected to play Saturday against Minnesota.