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Minnesota Preview - BSD Staff Predictions

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RUTS says...

Minnesota has great linebackers, but they aren't particularly great on the front line of their defense. That should give Penn State's beleaguered offensive line a bit of a respite. If they can pick up blitzes and keep Daryll Clark upright, Penn State's offense should have a successful day -- even in the snow, which as of Thursday night has crept back into the forecast in place of the cold rain.

Defensively for PSU, it's hard to see the struggling Adam Weber getting enough time to establish any sort of rhythm. Minnesota's rushing attack has been decidedly less than impressive, although Kevin Whaley (8 rushes, 79 yards, TD vs. Purdue last week) could be a guy who breaks a big run at a bad time for Penn State. Still, there's just not enough ammunition on the Golden Gopher offense, even with Eric Decker lurking.

That leaves the Minnesota special teams advantage we referenced yesterday. If the weather conditions turn out to be as poor as expected and the game is close, look for a blocked field goal or muffed punt to be the potential difference. Still, this should be a game that Penn State wins on the merits, freaky stuff in the kicking game aside. Here's hoping for a replay of the '96 Northwestern game, when the Penn State defense took turns devouring Wildcat QB Steve Schnur as the snowflakes increased.

Penn State 31, Minnesota 14

Mike says...

I guess I shouldn't be too worried about this game. Penn State clearly has the advantage in talent. I expect them to completely dominate the Gophers on defense. Minnesota has a terrible rushing attack, and they won't do any better against Penn State's front seven. For Penn State on defense it's basically going to boil down to stopping Eric Decker. He's the only guy that can kill them.

On offense Penn State should move the ball and score at will, but the weather forecast has me a bit uneasy. If it's raining and sleeting and cold with heavy winds I look for Minnesota to sell out against stopping the run. If that's the case it may be difficult for the Nittany Lions to score and this may turn into an old fashioned slugfest. This bothers me because Minnesota has the advantage in special teams, and if it's a low scoring game a special teams play could tip the scales. I'll say Penn State pulls this one out pretty comfortably, but if the weather is bad I won't feel good until it's over.

Penn State 28, Minnesota 13

Kevin says...

At first I was concerned about the weather, and after Iowa how could I not be not be? Nothing is better for a team with less talent and great special teams than rain and wind with temperatures in the thirties. But there's more to it, I think.

Minnesota can't run the ball. Their two featured back, Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge, are averaging right around 4.5 yards per carry and have season-longs in the 20s. They rank 93rd in sacks allowed and are going up against one of the better pass rushes around. When it comes time to rely on your o-line in the sleet, how's it going to hold up now that Lee is back on the field? High chance of ugly, I think.

Unless they can unleash the Decker. He's currently ranked third in the nation in receiving yards and has gained more than Moye and Powell combined. Worry if he's picking up 15 and 20 yards several times a drive.

I suspect Bradly continues to play the corners very soft, sends a couple linebackers on the blitz, and keeps the big plays to a minimum. Minnesota isn't built to grind a game out against the Penn State defense, and after the last six quarters I feel like Clark & Co. will be able to get it done against a defense ranks 70+ nationally in most major categories.

Slow start, steady roll.

Penn State 38, Minnesota 17