In a game where Penn State needed a win to stop the bleeding of a two game losing streak and salvage the season, the Nittany Lions overcame injuries and a shaky defensive performance to get their fourth win of the season.
Penn State was able to grab good field position when quarterback Rob Bolden hit Brett Brackett on a 19 yard strike on the first play of the game. Though Penn State punted four plays later, they pinned Minnesota at their 4-yard line. The Gophers went three-and-out and the ensuing punt gave Penn State the ball at the Minnesota 47 yard line. After an 11-yard pass to Justin Brown and an 11-yard run by Evan Royster, Bolden hit Brett Brackett on a 21 yard pass for a touchdown to take the 7-0 lead.
Minnesota responded with a 75 yard drive of their own that ended with a 29 yard touchdown strike from Adam Weber to Da'Jon McKnight. It was a sign of things to come as McKnight would go on to tally 103 yards and 3 TD on 8 catches for the day.
Both teams traded punts, and then Penn State marched on an 89 yard drive that ended in a two yard touchdown run by Evan Royster. Penn State was greatly aided by two pass interference penalties on the Gophers inside the redzone.
On Penn State's next possession, Bolden was trying to scramble for a first down when Minnesota gang tackled him and drove his head into the turf. He was visibly disoriented and had to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms. Matt McGloin came in the game in relief, but Bolden's injury had clearly shaken up the Penn State sideline.
Minnesota had momentum and appeared to be driving for a score to tie the game midway through the second quarter, but D'Anton Lynn picked off a pass in the endzone and ran it back to midfield. Penn State decided to gamble on the next play and it paid off big time when McGloin hit Derek Moye on a 42-yard TD strike to take a 21-7 lead.
In two plays Penn State swung the momentum from almost allowing Minnesota to tie to taking a 14 point lead. The lead held into halftime despite McGloin throwing an interception on Penn State's next possession.
Minnesota came out with a 75 yard TD drive to start the second half to cut the deficit to seven points. Penn State responded by changing things up with Kevin Newsome at quarterback. Newsome was reported to have been ill all week and almost didn't make the trip. But he ripped off 18 yards on three carries on the drive, and Royster broke off a 29 yard run to set up a 49-yard field goal by Collin Wagner to push the lead to ten points in favor of Penn State.
Both offenses sputtered for the next few possessions, but Minnesota started to get things going at the end of the third quarter driving into Penn State territory. But Weber's pass to Eric Lair fell incomplete on 4th-and-10 and Penn State took over on downs at their own 36.
Sensing the need to shake things up again on offense, Joe Paterno turned to freshman Silas Redd looking for a spark. The true freshman ripped off runs of 26 and 20 yards to push the ball into the redzone. A few plays later McGloin hooked up with Moye again on a 9 yard TD pass in the corner, and Penn State took a comfortable 31-14 lead.
An illegal block on the ensuing kickoff return forced Minnesota to start from their own 9 yard line. This set up Devon Still to sack Weber in the endzone for a safety and 19-point lead to put the game away. Minnesota went on to add another touchdown by taking advantage of the Penn State defense just focused on keeping everything in front of them.
After the game Paterno was asked how it felt to get win No. 398, and his response was "I'm just happy to get a win." Indeed, it was a game the Nittany Lions had to have in order to save hope for a post season bowl game. Now the Nittany Lions must start preparing for Michigan, and the big question on everyone's mind all week will be who lines up under center if Bolden can't play.