Gameday Observations: Penn State vs Minnesota
Penn State’s overtime thriller vs Minnesota was arguably the most exciting home win since the Lions defeated Michigan back in 2013 behind Allen Robinson’s last minute heroics. The game’s first half was a struggle at best, but the second half was a fireworks show for the ages. Here’s what our coverage team took away from Saturday’s contest.
Winning is in the air: There was something different about Beaver Stadium following Saturday’s overtime victory. For the first time since Michigan 2013, you could feel a surge of energy course throughout the crowd as fans filed out in jubilation. Penn State finally pulled off the statement win it so desperately needed, and on the way to James Franklin’s postgame press conference, you could tell that the Nittany Lion faithful were soaking it all in as they headed for the exits. Bringing the Governor’s Victory Bell back to Happy Valley also means it’ll have a nice shelf life in the team’s trophy case, as Minnesota doesn’t rotate back onto the schedule until Nov. 9, 2019.
Penn State’s offense can be a joy to watch: Sure, the rain drove some to tune in from their living rooms rather than the metal bleachers, but for the 90,000-plus who turned out (and stuck around past the 13-3 first half), Saturday’s game more than lived up to expectations. Penn State’s offense proved it can execute with its back up against the wall, as Trace McSorley and Chris Godwin led a clutch drive to get Tyler Davis in field-goal range. After bringing home a key Big Ten win when they truly needed it, the Nittany Lions will enjoy an added level of excitement from folks heading back to State College for this Saturday’s noon Homecoming tilt versus Maryland. Better buckle up, cause we could be in store for a shootout given the points these two offenses can put on the board.
Home field advantage makes the difference in Beaver Stadium: I wouldn’t say Saturday’s crowd was sparse by any stretch of the imagination, but Beaver Stadium certainly didn’t sound like it normally does in the early stages of that game. But, once that magical second half began, something felt different. The home crowd bought in, and it paid dividends. Minnesota was thrown off especially once the fourth quarter began, and the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm might’ve been the straw on the camel’s back for the Gophers. I haven’t felt a box shake like that in quite some time, but we weren’t the only ones who took notice. James Franklin began his postgame press conference by thanking the fans for being loud and playing their part.
Big Ten conference play is fun: Sure, non-conference rivalry games produce some fun storylines, but there’s nothing like taking on a Big Ten foe at home. The hits grew harder as the game wore on, and emotions were running at an all-time high (especially after Joey Julius became the victim of a dirty cheap shot in the second half). If Saturday’s result was any indication, we’ve got a fun slate of games on tap for the rest of the season. Hopefully a few results end in Penn State’s favor — one can dream about beating Ohio State in Happy Valley, right?