Where the game turned
Coming into this play, Penn State's offense was stalling. Their last eight offensive plays had gone for a total of -1 yards, and this appeared to be a point in the game where if Minnesota got a stop here, they could put the game out of reach with another touchdown.
Then this happened.
I've watched this play more than a handful of times, and I still don't know what Kunle Ayinde was trying to do to Irvin Charles here. All he has to do is tackle him and he's down at the 45, but Charles slips away and takes it 80 yards for the touchdown.
The complexion of this game changed on this play as Penn State had all the momentum.
Another unforced penalty
You'll see Daletavius McGhee release off the edge on the top of your screen, and then comes in out of control to obliterate the Penn State return man for a 15 yard penalty. Again, another unforced penalty and Minnesota shoots itself in the foot and gives Penn State even better field position.
Momentum continues to swing toward Penn State.
Another momentum shifting play
First play off the penalty, Penn State goes play action on Gophers corner Jalen Myrick, and Chris Godwin goes up and makes the play on the ball. Trace McSorley had way too much time in the pocket and he didn't even have to move and had plenty of room to step up into his throw. Myrick doesn't locate the ball fast enough and it's too late to break up the pass.
Penn State gets called for targeting
After Penn State tied it up with a field goal, Minnesota gets a gift as the Nittany Lions are called for targeting on this third down play, and it gives Minnesota a fresh set of downs. Leading with the helmet to the head of Mitch Leidner is going to get you called. Same deal with what Taiyon Devers was ejected for earlier in the season.
Shenault pass interference
I know this isn't the greatest view of the play, but I'm not a huge fan of this pass interference call. If anything, you can see the Penn State receiver extend his right arm to get separation at the end of the play. Shenault's head was turned and he's got a right to the ball, but I'm not a Big Ten official.
Things go from bad, to worse
The guy at fault here is linebacker Jonathan Celestin. You can see the linebacker go with the tight end, and then he just loses him as he and Gophers safety are on the same guy, leaving the Penn State tight end WIDE OPEN.
Looks like Penn State ran "scissors", crossing their receivers and losing Celestin in the process.
Can't have broken play after broken play if your the Minnesota defense.
Penn State takes the lead
The quarter that will never ends continues on as Trace McSorley runs to his left off play action. Jack Lynn bites on the play action with the running back and can't close quick enough as the Nittany Lions take the lead.
One more play will sum up this quarter for the Gophers.
Jaylen Waters ejection
Honest to goodness, I don't see a lot wrong with this hit. My caveat being you can't tell on TV if this was after the whistle, then it's unnecessary roughness and a penalty. It was well-known that Joey Julius likes to come down and make plays on kickoff, and Jaylen Waters leads with his shoulder and gets shoulder to shoulder contact as Julius flops. The kicker literally has 40+ lbs on Waters and he goes down like a sack of bricks.
He's not a defenseless player, so I'm not a fan of the targeting call either.
Regardless, Minnesota gets the targeting call against them and the quarter of game-changing momentum comes to an end on this play.
3rd quarter score: Penn State 20, Minnesota 13
Shannon Brooks finally breaks one
Penn State stacks the box here with eight defenders as Minnesota goes power. The three key blocks are go to tight ends Colton Beebe, Nate Wozniak and right guard Jared Weyler. Wozniak absolutely gets away with a hold on the Penn State defensive end, but Beebe does a great job of sealing the running lane from the rushing corner and Weyler has a perfect pull to meet the linebacker in the hole. Brooks is able to elude #31 to gets far too up field and then turns on the burners and has nothing but green grass ahead of him.
Beautifully executed play by Gophers front seven against the Penn State front seven for the touchdown as Minnesota starts to turn the flow of this game.
Leidner look off
This may be Mitch Leidner's best throw of the season. Minnesota goes play action and credit to this offensive line for giving Leidner the time he needs to look to his left, then option isn't there and then Leidner throws a bullet past the linebacker and with supreme accuracy for the first down.
Gophers continue to drive heading toward the Penn State side of the field.
The ball you can't under-throw
I'm sure that Mitch Leidner wants this ball back.
Minnesota is driving in the red zone here and on third down, the one thing you can't do is give away points on a throw like this. Brian Smith is clearly open behind the Penn State secondary, but Leidner short arms it in the worst situation possible. If you're a quarterback here, the ONE place you can't miss this throw is short. Miss it long all day of the week and you live to see another day, but short arming it puts it in position for the defense to make a play on it and Minnesota comes away without points.
Leidner has to throw this ball to the back pylon and make sure that Smith is the only player that can make a play on the ball.
Minnesota doesn't get points and Penn State takes over.
Missed opportunity for Travis
It's the second straight week that if Damarius Travis takes a better path to the ball, he gets the interception and he might have housed it. All Travis has to do here in cut in front of the receiver and grab the ball. Easier said than done I know, but it's the second straight week where he's cut behind the defender and opposing team comes down with the grab.
This play comes on a third and 15 no less and the Nittany Lions are able to extend the drive.
Worse yet, Daletavius McGhee was injured on this point and did not return. In my zero years in the medical field, looks to me that McGhee may have sustained a concussion here as he did not return for the remainder of the game.
Beebe shows off the baby bottom hands
Penn State goes on to take the lead on a field goal, and Minnesota on their next drive is facing a third and short year. Credit to this offensive line again as Leidner takes a five step drop out of shotgun and has plenty of time to scan down field. Gophers run crossing routes and freshman Colton Beebe finds the soft spot behind the linebacker for the first down.
Nice soft hands on that play from the Kansas product.
What almost was
This play may look insignificant to most as Minnesota gets hit for the tackle for loss and ends up having to kick a field goal, but watch both Colton Beebe and Tyler Moore here. #31, a Penn State linebacker rushes and Beebe comes down the line of scrimmage and doesn't touch him, and he crosses just behind Tyler Moore who isn't able to chip him on the peel back, and the linebacker makes the play. If Beebe takes him and Moore is able to lead up through the hole, look at all the green for Shannon Brooks to run to. It certainly would have been a first down, which would have allowed Minnesota to run out the clock of a last second field goal try.
At any rate, Minnesota kicks the field goal to go up three and Penn State gets the ball back with less than a minute left.
A game of pitch and catch
Hell of a throw and catch by McSorely and Godwin here.
Minnesota's finally able to get pressure and McSorely throws off it back foot with Julian Huff right it his face. When he throws this Godwin isn't even out of his break yet, and he locates the ball just in time to adjust his route and make a diving catch.
Can I mention this was on third and long as well. McSorely placed the ball where only his receiver could make a play and Myrick played this about as well as he could without finding the ball. Unbelievable play with less than a minute on the clock.
Wide open spaces
Minnesota's in their 4-2-5 defense here on maybe the most critical play in the game. The Gophers are in man coverage and rush their front four. Julian Huff has RB responsibilities and Jonathan Celestin has the tight end out of the backfield. Myrick, Shenault and Winfield are man'ed up on their men as well, with safeties Damarius Travis and Kunle Ayinde playing deep zone.
Unfortunately, no one is "spying" the quarterback and McSorely feels pressure and steps up to a sea of calm green waves ahead of him. With 20 seconds left, McSorely is able to scramble 26 yards and put Penn State well-within field goal range.
An interesting decision to not give one of the linebackers spying responsibilities and just line up Ayinde or Travis with the linebacker, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Penn State ends up making the field goal and the game goes to overtime.
4th quarter score: Minnesota 23, Penn State 23
Penn State rushes four, and Minnesota keeps in both Rodney Smith and Nate Wozniak to block, so the Gophers have seven in. Unfortunately, Jonah Pirsig would has played great through the first four games of his senior season has his first major slip up of the season at the wrong time.
Minnesota tries to go play action and as Leidner moves of his first read, the Penn State defensive end's initial punch puts Pirsig on his heels and he engulfs Leidner for the less than ideal sack for the Gophers. 2nd and 9 goes to 3rd and 13 and Minnesota has to end up settling for a field goal.
Barkley finally gets loose
Up until this carry, the best running back in the Big Ten, Saquon Barkley was sitting at 19 carries for 38 yards. Minnesota had absolutely shut him down, and on the first play of overtime, Barkley was finally able to break free. DE Gaelin Elmore has to stay honest on the read option Barkley is able to take the carry inside. Celestin flows too far toward the center of the field leaving Saquon Barkley and Kunle Ayinde one on one in the center of the field. That's a battle that Ayinde is not going to win very often, and Barkley cuts on a dime leaving Ayinde grasping for cloth and Penn State wins the game.
This was absolutely a game that Minnesota has every opportunity to win as we've laid out above, and Penn State came away with the victory at home.
Luckily for Minnesota, their next five games are very winnable starting with Iowa this week.