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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Minnesota

by on September 30, 2016 1:00 PM

Penn State and Minnesota are set for a Big Ten clash this weekend at a 3:30, the Nittany Lions looking to rebound from a blowout loss to Michigan while the Gophers try and make it 4-0 on the year. Here is what you need to know about Penn State's latest opponent.

Last Week:

At this point Penn State's 49-10 loss to No. 4 Michigan is fairly well documented, across the way Minnesota bet Colorado State 31-24 for a third straight victory to go 3-0 on the year. The Gophers have scored 30+ every game this season with victories over Oregon State and Indiana State. This weekend's contest is the first road game of the year for Minnesota under head coach Tracy Claeys.

 

 

The Offense:

The Gophers are led by Mitch Leidner under center with 734 yards of offense with 135 yards rushing so far this season. The redshirt senior quarterback is protected by an offensive line with four upperclassmen including senior right tackle, 6-foot-9, 325 pound Jonah Pirsig. Out wide it's senior Drew Wolitarsky at receiver along with Brian Smith and freshman Tyler Johnson. Wolitarsky has 252 yards of receiving this year and leads the Gophers with two touchdowns. In the backfield Rodney Smith leads the way with five scores and 298 yards on the ground. The entire unit is run by new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson in his first year at Minnesota.

The Defense:

Jack Lynn leads the way on the defensive side of the ball with 22 tackles, 14 of which in the solo variety (a team high). Damarius Travis' only interception on the year is a team high in a secondary with three upperclassmen for the Gophers. In total the Minnesota defense has upperclassmen starters across the board aside from sophomore cornerback Antonio Shenault. The veteran corps will give Penn State's offense a true test as the Nittany Lions look to bounce back from last week's loss.

Despite the veteran across the board the Gophers have given up 23 or more points in each game this season. Minnesota gives up 118 yards on the ground per game and 347 total per contest.

The Player To Watch:

As Mitch Leidner goes the Gophers go. If Minnesota can get the offense rolling against a depleted Nittany Lion defense it could be another long afternoon for Penn State. With points coming in bunches for both teams it could be a race to the finish with whoever has the ball last. if Penn State can get to Leidner picking up a third victory on the year will be much easier than other shootout.

The Prediction:

Penn State and Minnesota both enter this game needing a victory for very different reasons. The Gophers validating a hot start and Penn State to bounce back from a loss. The Nittany Lions needs this game and a home crowd might be enough to get the job done despite a depleted defense. Lots of points in this one, but Tyler Davis finally gets a game winner. 30-27 Penn State.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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