Penn State Preview: Minnesota

Penn State hosts Minnesota on Saturday night for the Nittany Lions’ 14th full-stadium White Out. Last season, Penn State upended Auburn 28-20 during the program’s yearly White Out game. Photo credit: Steve Manuel

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season.

Game details: vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. kickoff, broadcast on ABC.

Records: No. 16 Penn State (5-1, 2-1) vs. Minnesota (4-2, 2-1).

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time mark of 307-79.

Weather forecast (via Accuweather): Thank goodness. After nonstop rain against Northwestern and chilly conditions in Ann Arbor, the forecast is calling for a high of 68 and a minimal 5% change of precipitation. So, there should be great tailgating weather. By the time kickoff rolls around, temps will dip and eventually settle into the high 40s.

The line: Penn State –4.5

All-time series: Penn State leads 9-6, with a 5-2 advantage at home.

Last week: Penn State suffered its first defeat of the season at Michigan (41-17), while Minnesota dropped its second straight, falling to surprisingly good Illinois (26-14).

Last meeting (2019): The Gophers won in Minneapolis in a battle of ranked teams. No. 17 Minnesota handed No. 17 Penn State a crippling blow to the Nittany Lions’ conference and national title hopes, winning 31-26.

Throwback classic (1994): In Penn State’s conference opener, the Nittany Lions went on the road and wiped out the Gopher, winning 56-3. Recently on Football Letter, former equipment manager Spider Caldwell said following that game, Minnesota’s coaches told Penn State’s staff that they knew exactly what the Nittany Lions were going to run, and they still couldn’t stop them. You can see Spider’s full interview on our Facebook page, which begins around the 30:30 mark.

The lead: So, will history repeat itself again? It’s beyond cliché to ask this question, though it must be asked. Following its first loss of the season in recent memory, Penn State has shown a tendency to trip up again the following week. It’s near impossible to imagine a letdown during a primetime kickoff in the White Out, though the Nittany Lions looked sluggish for the entire first quarter in Ann Arbor following their bye. If that happens again, look out.

As we said in The Letter earlier this week, with true freshman and highly prized recruit Drew Allar available to go, a lot of eyes will look toward the sideline with every Penn State possession that doesn’t result in points. That’s not good for the offense. That’s not good for the defense. That’s not good for anyone in the program.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, James Franklin said that Clifford has earned the right to be on the field. He’s right. Beyond everything that he’s contributed to the program, Clifford has looked sharp for most of the season, leading the Nittany Lions to a 5-0 start and a Top-10 ranking before the misstep at Michigan. Reverse that result this weekend against the Gophers, and suddenly, the showdown with Ohio State the following week can vault Penn State back into the conference title conversation and significantly decrease Michigan’s margin of effort.

Roar Tour: Game result aside, last weekend was a lot of fun, and we always appreciate the opportunity to spend time with our alumni and fans. You can see the action from the Roar Tour at Michigan with our Flickr gallery and by visiting the Live tab on our Facebook page, which has all our archived livestreams featuring the Pep Band, Penn State Cheerleaders, and Nittany Lion. You can join us at either Indiana (Nov. 5), and/or Rutgers (Nov. 19), and we hope to see you next month on the road.

Keep an eye on: Penn State’s defensive front-seven. A week following a painful outing against Michigan, which ran for 400-plus yards, the Nittany Lions face another opponent who likes to keep it on the ground. How Penn State’s defensive line and linebackers hold up against the run, and guard against fatigue, will be critical. Will be interesting to see how many players Manny Diaz rotates in throughout the game.

Academic excellence: A total of 552 of Penn State football student-athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors since 1993 for owning at least a 3.0 grade point average and being a letterwinner.

Trivia tidbit, Part 1: Saturday will be Penn State’s 14th full-stadium White Out, per Penn State Athletics.

Trivia tidbit, Part 2: Sean Clifford passed 10,000-career yards against Michigan last week. Not years. If you know, you know.

For more on The Football Letter, (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

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