WORST DECISION Penn State's choice to try for two late in the third quarter was curious, at best.
P.J. Fleck's Gophers controlled the game from the start in an impressive 31-26 win.
Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. A sure first down and a counter to Minnesota's building momentum, George's drop proved to be a costly incompletion for the Nittany Lions. Minnesota's lead was 14-10 entering the second quarter, but an interception from Clifford - his second of the first half - gave the ball back to the Gophers. Not so much according to the College Football Playoff committee, which slotted unbeaten Minnesota No. 17, behind six two-loss teams.
No. 5 Penn State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten, No. 4 CFP) vs.More news: Starbucks' Gingerbread Latte Isn't Coming Back This Season
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The Nittany Lions showed life on their next drive.
"It just takes a lot of stress off you", Penn State running back Journey Brown said.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME For the sake of fairness, Minnesota's passing game, in totality, deserves the nod here. The Gophers have lost four straight games against the Hawkeyes. (11) intercepts the ball intended for Penn State wide receiver Justin Shorter (6) during a game Saturday in Minneapolis. Penn State trailed 31-26 with 3:49 left in the game. Forcing the Gophers into repeated third-and-long situations, Penn State allowed first downs of 21- and 36-yards and, most critically the extension of a possession on a desperation heave thanks to a John Reid pass interference. Coming off a quick possession to open the second half, the Gophers moved the ball enough to give Herbers a ideal opportunity to pin the Nittany Lions deep, which he did with a 36-yard attempt down to Penn State's 9-yard line.
Minnesota: Plays at Iowa next Saturday. The Gophers won the last matchup in Minnesota, 24-10 in 2013. Minnesota made Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford uncomfortable from the jump while its offense used a balanced approach to move the ball all over the vaunted PSU defense to the tune of 460 yards. The Nittany Lions, led by linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, have the second-stingiest run defense in the FBS with an average of 68.4 yards given up per game on the ground. The trophy came apart when the boisterous players tried to hoist it in too many different directions, needing some fix.