Minnesota has been the surprise of the Big Ten this season. The Golden Gophers are undefeated so far this season. The five Big Ten teams they have beaten have a combined record of 17-28. A weaker starting schedule could be an argument for Minnesota being overrated but their is something to be said for a team that goes week in and week out and takes care of business. This Minnesota team is dangerous offensively and improving on defense. On the offensive side the Golden Gophers have used great athletes at their skill positions to run their RPO offense efficiently.
- Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- When: Saturday, NOON ET
- Channel: ABC
- Spread: -6.5 Penn State
Minnesota’s quarterback Tanner Morgan has thrown for 1761 yards, 18 TDs and 4 INT. He has shown great patience and poise in the Gophers’ RPO system. It helps when he has a trio of talented receivers to throw to. Rashod Bateman, Tyler Johnson, and Chris Autman-Bell make up a very productive trio of lengthy and strong receivers for Golden Golphers. Their height makes them tremendous deep threats as well as red zone targets. On the flip side of the RPO the Golphers running back core is lead by Rodney Smith. Smith has rushed for 889 yards on the season. He averages 5.8 yards per carry.
The Golden Gophers have improved defensively throughout the season. Their strength on defense is their pass coverage. They have solid depth at the cornerback and safety positions. They struggle in rush defense, giving up about 118 yards per game. Minnesota will have an even tougher go at defending the rush attack against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State comes into this game with a #4 spot in the College Football Playoffs on the line. They are going to look to use their own RPO system against the Nittany Lions. Quarterback Sean Clifford has been excellent in the system. He has thrown for 1,931 yards 20 TDs and 3 INT on the season. Perhaps an even more important element of the offense to mention is that Clifford will take the ball on the ground himself. He has 280 yards rushing and 3 TDs on the season. The Lions have a very balanced attack and will go 3 or 4 deep on their running back reps.
Probably the greatest key to this game will be the Penn State defensive front. The defensive line has been tremendous this season totaling 30 sacks. Penn State has been elite on all 3 levels this season. They have allowed less than 10 points per game. It will take a tremendous performance from Minnesota’s offensive line to be able to drive the ball down the field on this Penn State defense. I’m looking for Penn State to tighten up their defense as the game goes along.
Prediction: Penn State 31 Minnesota 17