DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 23rd, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TCF Bank Stadium (50,805) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television:ESPNU. Home Record: PSU 3-1, Minnesota 0-4. Away Record: PSU 0-2, Minnesota 1-2. Neutral Record: PSU 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Conference Record: PSU 0-2, Minnesota 0-3. Series Record: Penn State leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams in desperate need of a win come together at TCF Bank Stadium this weekend, as the Penn State Nittany Lions battle the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a Big Ten affair.
The Lions were idle this past week as they search for ways to end a two-game slide. PSU was most recently in action on October 9th, when it suffered a 33-13 loss to Illinois. The Lions are now 3-3 overall, including 0-2 in league play, and in need of a victory.
Even more desperate for a win is Minnesota, which has dropped six games in a row since opening the season with a victory over Middle Tennessee. The losing skid started with a shocking defeat to South Dakota State, a FCS program, and continued last weekend with a 28-17 setback at Purdue. The team is now 0-3 in Big Ten play and an even worse 0-4 in home games.
As for the all-time series, PSU holds a 7-4 edge and has won the past three clashes, including a 20-0 blanking last season.
The Lions have struggled on the offensive side of the ball and that was made very clear in their loss to Illinois. PSU gained just seven first downs and 235 total yards, with 80 of them coming on one pass play. Freshman QB Rob Bolden has looked every bit like a rookie and he completed just 8-of-21 pass attempts last game. He finished with 142 yards, but 80 of them came on a TD pass to Derek Moye. Bolden has tossed just four TDs against seven INTs this season and has completed only 56.1 percent of his pass attempts, numbers that are well below average. Moye, who finished last game with 106 receiving yards, leads the team with 22 catches and 377 yards, while Evan Royster heads the way on the ground with 388 yards. Though both Moye and Royster lead the team at their respective positions, neither has performed up to expectations following last year's success.
Defensively, PSU was gashed in its last outing, as Illinois rolled up 437 yards of total offense. The Lions surrendered 282 of those yards on the ground, while allowing Illinois to complete an efficient 16-of-20 pass attempts. It was obviously a dismal performance from a unit that is now yielding 145.5 rushing ypg and 169.3 passing ypg for the season. The defense has recorded just 10 takeaways and eight sacks, so something needs to be done to spark this once proud group. Chris Colasanti collected a career-high 18 tackles in the loss to Illinois and he now tops the squad with 59 stops for the year.
The Gophers were just dreadful on offense last weekend and did next to nothing until the fourth quarter of their 28-17 loss to Purdue. Minnesota accumulated just 279 total yards, while turning the ball over three times. QB Adam Weber rushed for a team-high 42 yards and threw for 214 more and a two scores, but he completed only 20-of-45 pass attempts and was picked twice. The veteran has now thrown for 14 TDs against six INTs, though he is completing just 56.6 percent of his attempts. Da'Jon McKnight has been his main target and he leads the team with 28 catches for 439 yards and six TDs. Those numbers were aided by a big performance last weekend, when he snared six balls for 123 yards and a TD. Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge were non-factors against Purdue, but they have combined for a successful 765 rushing yards on the season.
On the defensive side of the ball is where Minnesota has really struggled this season, allowing 201.1 ypg on the ground and another 213.1 ypg through the air. The unit has given up 18 rushing TDs thus far and that is simply too many. Three of those rushing TDs came last weekend against Purdue, which rolled up 230 yards on the ground. Purdue had its way up front and added 163 yards and another score via the pass. Minnesota once again failed to come up with a sack as well and the team has managed just three for the year. Gary Tinsley currently paces the defense with 56 stops and he had 10 and an INT versus Purdue.
PSU has struggled of late but this is a good chance for the team to get back on track. Expect the Lions to run the ball successfully, as they get back into the win column against a struggling Minnesota squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 30, Minnesota 14