Report Card: Penn State

Minneapolis, MN. - Many have thought before this game, Minnesota was having a magical season. After their 24-10 gritty win against Penn State, it has only further proved that theory with the Gophers sitting 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.

Offense- For the second week in a row, but especially this week, the passing game was the best thing going for this Minnesota offense in the first half. Quarterback Philip Nelson went 15-24 for 186 passing yards and a touchdown. That touchdown pass went to tight end Maxx Williams, who had 2 catches for 48 yards and that touchdown before the half. Nelson distributed the ball well through the air by 7 players each having a reception for the Gophers. The running attack was fairly decent this game as running back David Cobb had 27 carries for 139 rushing yards and a touchdown. His longest run on the day came from when he bursted through the line for a 44 yard gain. The Gophers ran the ball against Penn State 46 times for 195 yards with an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Minnesota scored all their points in the first half and looked to really be in a groove. Second half was another story as they were unable to score again for the rest of the game, but still had the ball for 11 minutes more than the Nittany Lions. Overall, solid performance by the offensive unit, but not great.

Grade: B-

Defense- Freshman Christian Hackenberg led the Big Ten in passing yards coming into this game by passing for over 250 yards a game. Hackenberg and his top target, wide receiver Allen Robinson both didn't have a impressive game against this improving Gopher defense. Hackenberg went 14-25 for 163 yards and Robinson had 7 catches for 63 yards. They contained this explosive duo and held this Penn State offense to only 10 points. The biggest play on the day had to be with the Nittany Lions driving in the fourth quarter to make the game a one score game, on second and goal at the 2, Hackenberg fumbled the snap and Minnesota linebacker James Manuel recovered to really seal the deal. Minnesota created two fumbles on defense and recovered both while making Penn State only be 1-9 on 3rd down along with being 1-3 on 4th down. I think this could have been the best performance of the season for this Gopher squad.

Grade: A

Special Teams- Kicker Chris Hawthorne had a very good game as he connected on a 45 yard field goal and was perfect on his extra points going 3-3. Punter Peter Mortell had a excellent game by having 4 punts accumulated for a total of 184 yards. Three of those punts went inside the 20 yard line and his longest punt was a bomb of 62 yards. How good was Mortell? Well, Penn State only had 2 punt return yards the whole game. The special teams unit has been solid all season long and did their job again today.

Grade: A

Coaching- Who would have thought after the beat down Michigan gave Minnesota in Ann Arbor, that the Gophers would win four straight Big Ten wins. The last time Minnesota won four straight Big Ten games was all the way back in 1973. The win over Penn State also gave the Gophers' the Governor's Victory Bell trophy, which it looked it broke once they got it. Still, Minnesota is 4-2 in the Big Ten and 8-2 overall. The Gophers are in the Big Ten title race, which many would have found hard to believe with only a few games left.

Grade: A

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