MINN: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's frosty shutout of Minnesota at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

It wasn't your typical Homecoming game at Penn State. But you didn't hear many fans complaining about the results afterward.

Because Happy Valley was pelted with rain and snow in the days leading up to Saturday's Big Ten matchup with Minnesota at Beaver Stadium, some 20,000 parking spaces in grass lots around the facility were rendered unusable.

So all rules were off when it came to parking. Fans were encouraged to car pool or take shuttles in from more distant parking lots. There were no reserved spaces.

That, coupled with the mixed precipitation and cold temperatures that persisted through the day Saturday, kept attendance down. The paid number was announced at 107,981, but it appeared the crowd was closer to the 80,000-85,000 range.

Everyone who showed up made the best of it. Except, of course, for the unranked Golden Gophers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten), who were throttled by the Nittany Lion defense in a 20-0 shutout.

Penn State, meanwhile, came into the game ranked No. 13 and showed why. It used a balanced offense and that strong defense to improve to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Here is some of what went down.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Redshirt sophomore receiver Derek Moye stole the spotlight from heavily hyped Gopher wideout Eric Decker, hauling in six passes for 120 yards and a touchdown that was so spectacular an official standing right on top of the play ruled him out of bounds. Replay overturned the call. More on that in a bit.

CLOSE SECOND: Speaking of Decker, he was limited to a season-low one reception thanks to a shutdown performance by PSU senior cornerback A.J. Wallace. Making his first start of the season, Wallace was terrific in coverage. He also made a key tackle on a goal-line stand that preserved the shutout.

CLOSE THIRD: Running back Evan Royster hammered out 137 yards on 23 carries and added 23 more yards on a pair of catches.

TURNING POINT: Moye's touchdown just before the half -- a 12-yarder from Daryll Clark -- was amazing. He had to adjust his body to make the catch, layout and keep his feet in bounds. The ref ruled him out but replay showed the catch to be clean. The touchdown was the first of the game, and gave the Lions a 13-0 lead going into the half.

SOLID STRATEGY: Despite the wet, cold conditions, Penn State was not afraid to throw the ball. Clark completed 12 of 32 passes for 287 yards as the Lions actually had more first downs through the air (14) than on the ground (six).

NUMBERS GAME: Minnesota had 38 yards from scrimmage in the first half. PSU held a 20:01 to 9:59 time-of-possession edge in the first two quarters and an unbelievable 41:59-18:01 edge in the game.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Penn State's defensive front four dominated. Though it only came up with one sack, it kept the pressure on QB Adam Weber and allowed the linebackers and defensive backs to concentrate on stopping the receivers. It also stuffed the Gopher running game.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Kicker Collin Wagner had a nice day, going 2 for 3 on field goals (including a career-best 47-yarder) and getting touchbacks on two of five kickoffs. Nice work in ugly weather.


• All those penalties on the offensive line. Every starting lineman was flagged at least once. For the game, PSU committed nine penalties for 76 yards.

• The officials needing so much extra help. There were four reviews in this game, and three of them overturned the calls made on the field. The blunder on Moye's TD was especially bad considering the official was on perfect position to see the play.

• Clark throwing several bad balls early. Fortunately for the Lions, he pulled it together and was terrific most of the day.

• Wagner coming up short on a 49-yard field goal try.

• A cub reporter asking Joe Paterno why Wagner pooch-punted after the Lions lined up for what appeared to be a 50-yard field goal early in the game. Let's see: he barely made his 47-yarder and then was just short on the 49-yarder. We're guessing the staff has a pretty good feel for his range.

HIT SQUAD: Penn State corner D'Anton Lynn set an early tone by drilling wideout Brandon Green on a pass play on Minnesota's second snap of the game. Green dropped the pass, and it seemed the Gopher offense never recovered.

HIDDEN HERO: The Beaver Stadium grounds crew somehow presented a great field for the game. One need only watch a Philadelphia Eagles' home game to gain an immense appreciation for how great the grass field at Beaver Stadium is in all kinds of weather.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Penn State is now bowl eligible.


• Senior linebacker Sean Lee made his much-anticipated return to action, playing in nickel situations. He made two tackles. After the game, he said he tweaked his injured knee a bit, but that he did not think it was serious.

• Defensive end Jerome Hayes made his second start of the season and saw his most sustained action of the year. He had one tackle.

• Tight end Mickey Shuler was hobbling after the game with a large ice pack strapped to his left shin.

• Backup tailback Stephfon Green limped off the field in the second quarter and never returned to the game. Penn State would only say it was a right foot injury.

• The snowball fights in the student section. It got a little out of hand when some folks began trying to pelt the Nittany Lion and the dance teams during a performance in the south end zone.

• Right offensive tackle Ako Poti made his second straight start.

• Injured defensive tackle Brandon Ware (broken foot) dressed for the first time all season. It was surprising considering Paterno ripped him during a mid-week press conference for being overweight and cutting classes. Ware did not play.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Are these Lions prepared to vanquish the demons that have haunted them in Ann Arbor?


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