“For Whom the Bell Tolls”

Campus Clash 

(4) Penn State Nittany Lions at (17) Minnesota Golden Gophers

Penn State: Another week which results in another win for them. Right now, this is the only team I feel that can challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten. That’s saying something. This team is extremely battle tested. Look at their recent games on the schedule. They had to grind a game out against the Iowa Hawkeyes, they come back home for their annual white out game against the Michigan Wolverines to handle business against them then the following week, they went to East Lansing and defeated the Michigan State Spartans. Two of those three games I just discussed were on the road. What says a lot about a football team is how they play away from home. Any test that comes in the direction of this group, they’ve passed it with flying colors. I can sit here and say I was wrong about them because I wasn’t expecting much. I felt they were in the process of rebuilding. I also thought they were a few years away from being a consistent contender in the Big Ten. When I previewed their game against Michigan, I was really looking forward to seeing quarterback Sean Clifford play. After that, I left impressed. He has such command of the offense which is so important to me. He sets the tone which then transfers over to each player on the offense. Sean plays with the mentality of a gunslinger and that can sometimes get a quarterback in trouble, but he makes it work for him. He can affect the game with his arm of course, but don’t doubt his mobility. This kid can move with the best of them. After a week off, the Nittany Lions look to keep their impressive winning streak alive against a team that’s been one of the biggest stories in college football this season.

Minnesota: Next to Matt Rhule with his Baylor Bears, this is another team that’s been one of the biggest shockers in the game of college football. They play in the West Division of the Big Ten and all people talked about were the Iowa Hawkeyes (who I picked to win the division this Summer) and the Wisconsin Badgers of course with Jonathan Taylor being the best running back in the country. The two I just bought up are both still in the hunt for the division title. But they’ve each lost two games which puts them out of having any type of hope of making the playoffs. These Golden Gophers right now own a two-game lead in the division over both those teams. Now, they own a ten-game winning streak dating back to the 2018 season. They are also undefeated through their first eight games since 1941 so it’s been a while. They’re ranked at number 13 which is their highest ranking since the 1999 season. Head coach P.J. Fleck would get my vote for coach of the year. What he’s done with this team in his third season has spoken volumes. If they win their division which is likely to happen and they get to Indianapolis for the conference title game, I think he has a good shot at winning it. The Golden Gophers have a quick, yet explosive offense and it’s anchored by quarterback Tanner Morgan. At 6’2, he’s a very crisp passer with a good vision for the entire football field. He makes all the throws and he has the confidence that he can complete every pass. This is a very balanced offense that averages 204 yards rushing the football and 225 yards passing. Defensively, they can be better all around. They return home for their biggest game of the year. A streaking Penn State team is in town.

Penn State Player to Watch: K.J. Hamler– The sophomore is everything to this Penn State offense. I see a lot of Doug Baldwin in his game. At 5’9, he’s able to do so much. Although he’s little in stature, he plays with a lot of heart and guts. He’s usually Clifford’s top target. I’m really looking forward to watching him play again.

Minnesota Player to Watch: Carter Coughlin– He’s one of the better defensive players in the conference. He’s a defensive end that can play either left or right end. I like the speed he displays on the field. He has the quickness to get to the quarterback for the sack. Containing Clifford will be a major key in this game on Saturday morning.
Final Analysis: This would by far be the game of the day if LSU and Alabama weren’t on the schedule. Both these teams have really shocked me. I see James Franklin allowing his offense to come out in a rhythm where they can get the no huddle offense going. The Nittany Lions have a lot of speed offensively. Use it to your advantage. If I’m Minnesota, get that pass rush on Clifford early on. Your defense isn’t as strong, but a few stops early on can set the tone for the game. This is the Golden Gophers biggest game in recent memory.

Prediction: Penn State 37 Minnesota 27

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