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Minnesota 31, Penn State 26: What Twitter Had To Say

It was a great run to start the season, but Penn State’s undefeated season is no more

Penn State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

At high noon on Saturday, the no. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions walked through the visitor’s tunnel at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for a battle of unbeatens. Waiting on the other side of the field was PJ Fleck and the 17th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Unfortunately, when the dust settled, the team that was left standing undefeated was Minnesota.

It was painfully clear from the get go that the first half was not going to be kinds to Penn State. After Justin Shorter dropped a pass on the first play from scrimmage, the game’s opening drive ended with Sean Clifford being intercepted inside the 10-yard line. While it was not a good throw by Clifford, there was also no effort from Shorter to play defense on the play. This was the first of two first half interceptions by Clifford — both of which happened inside the Minnesota 10 and led to Golden Gopher touchdowns — in what was a less than stellar half for the Nittany Lion signal caller.

Pry’s unit ranked second nationally in rushing yards and points per per game, first in yards per carry, they had allowed three touchdowns just once all season, and they had allowed just 8 first quarter points. Well, at halftime Minnesota had 320 yards of offense and 24 points.

Clifford’s second INT of the first half was not without controversy. While it was a poor throw by Cliff, Minnesota also got away with a blatant pass interference. This was a huge swing as it took at least 3 points off the board for Penn State and led to a Minnesota scoring a drive. A game they was on it’s way to be 17-14 Penn State, or, at worst, 14-13 Minnesota, became 21-10 Minnesota as a result.

One Nittany Lion that had a strong first half was redshirt sophomore running back Journey Brown. With Noah Cain sidelined due to injury, Brown’s workload increased and he responded in a big way.

In the first half, Brown had 8 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. This included a pair of runs for 20+ yards. He finished with a career high 124 rushing yards and a pair of rushing scores. Brown also had a 17-yard reception.

Early in the second half the Nittany Lions were in dire need of a turnover and got it. This turnover came when Keaton Ellis and Lamont Wade teamed up to force a fumble that Shaka Toney recovered.

Following the fumble recovery, the offense put a drive together and marched down the field. It was capped off with a touchdown strike from Clifford to senior tight end Nick Bowers, and the Nittany Lions had cut Minnesota’s lead to 5.

After scoring to cut the Minnesota lead to 24-19, the Nittany Lion defense made their lone miscue of the second half. It came when Tariq Castro-Fields was burnt in coverage badly on a 3rd and long. This gave Minnesota 1st and goal and led to a Gopher touchdown. Penn State Twitter was not very pleased with TCF after the play.

This was not his only bad play on the day. It was a rough day at the office for Castro-Fields.

Following the Minnesota touchdown to start the 4th quarter, the Nittany Lion offense responded. They quickly worked their way inside the Minnesota 10-yard line, and then offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne had a less than stellar sequence of play calling. After back-to-back run plays with Devyn Ford, Rahne called a QB run and then a fade route on 4th down. It did not work. People, rightfully so, were mad.

The Nittany Lions would continue to fight in the 4th quarter. Trailing 31-19, they put together a scoring drive where Brown hit pay dirt for the second time. The defense then forced a three-and-out and a punt. This led to the offense marching inside the Minnesota 10-yard line.

Penn State got the ball back with just under 3 minutes to go and started to march. They reached the Minnesota 2-yard line before an offensive pass interference call on Daniel George made it 2nd and 24 at the 25. Then on 3rd down, Clifford was intercepted in the end zone to end the game. On the play, however, Minnesota should have been called for defensive pass interference as Jahan Dotson was tackled inside the 5-yard line. But, no flag was thrown and the Gophers pulled the upset.

I had forgotten what it’s like to lose, but it still sucks. Next week Indiana comes to town. I have a feeling they will be facing one very PO’d Nittany Lion squad. Good luck, Hoosiers, you’ll need it.