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5th-Seeded Nittany Lions Move To Big Ten Semifinals

5th-Seeded Nittany Lions Move To Big Ten Semifinals 5th-Seeded Nittany Lions Move To Big Ten Semifinals
Cary Erickson | 10 November, 2019, 00:31

WORST DECISION Penn State's choice to try for two late in the third quarter was curious, at best.

"This team's been through so much - on the field and off - over the last three years", Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said after the game. The Gophers wasted no time to capitalize, as Tanner Morgan found Rashod Bateman for a 66-yard touchdown and took a 7-0 lead.

No. 5 Penn State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten, No. 4 CFP) vs. Hamler wound up instead in the hands of Antoine Winfield, in spite of an obvious pass interference against the Nittany Lion receiver.

The College Football Playoff field will be influenced, too, with Penn State landing in the top four in the first edition of the rankings. His first quarter strike to Bateman on the sideline proved to be a tone-setter for the Gophers that wouldn't ever let up. The ball floated harmlessly toward the middle of the field, but the Nittany Lions were unable to come up with the interception.

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This is the most-anticipated game at Minnesota since October 10, 2003, when the 17th-ranked Gophers lost 38-35 at the Metrodome to 20th-ranked MI. The Gophers have lost four straight games against the Hawkeyes. The Penn State offense responded with a strong 10-play, 69-yard drive, but it was cut short by yet another interception by Winfield Jr. Penn State trailed 31-26 with 3:49 left in the game.

Minnesota has rich rivalries with border-state foes Iowa and Wisconsin and a trophy game with MI, matchups that have each been staged more than 80 times. Coming off a quick possession to open the second half, the Gophers moved the ball enough to give Herbers a ideal opportunity to pin the Nittany Lions deep, which he did with a 36-yard attempt down to Penn State's 9-yard line.

Each and every year it seems Penn State enters a massive game in November unprepared with larger games looming later in the season.

The Gophers had 321 yards and a 24-13 lead at halftime, already the most points allowed in a game by the Nittany Lions this season, but a fumble near midfield by Shannon Brooks at the end of a run on the first play after a punt sapped some momentum. The trophy came apart when the boisterous players tried to hoist it in too many different directions, needing some fix. The Nittany Lions' defense also went to Minneapolis giving up an average of only 9.6 points per game, which was second in the country to Ohio State.