College football’s greatest environment did not stop a familiar slow start for Penn State - specifically its offense - on Saturday night.
But, by the end of the third quarter, the electric White Out crowd at Beaver Stadium was savoring a Big Ten blowout victory for the Nittany Lions.
Sparked by a dominating middle two quarters, the No. 16 Nittany Lions earned their sixth win of the year with a 45-17 win against the Gophers.
Clinging to a 17-10 lead and having seemingly lost all momentum, Penn State was at its best after coming out of the locker room to start the third quarter.
Three possessions for the Lions? Three touchdowns that opened up a 38-10 lead and reminded Penn State fans of the promise shown leading up to last week’s loss to Michigan.
That disappointment seemed like ancient history as Parker Washington hauled in an acrobatic touchdown catch, Nicholas Singleton exploded for a touchdown run, and Sean Clifford took advantage of Minnesota being slow to get set defensively as he connected with Mitchell Tinsley for a score.
Clifford, who was booed after an early interception that allowed Minnesota to jump out to a 3-0 lead, finished with 291 yards on 23-of-31 attempts and four touchdowns before giving way to Drew Allar midway through the fourth quarter.
Singleton and Kaytron Allen were a great tandem as Penn State’s rushing offense got moving against the Gophers. Singleton had 79 yards and a pair of scores, while Allen had a physical 77 yards on 15 carries.
Meanwhile, it was a bounce back performance for Manny Diaz’s defense.
The Lions hounded Gopher backup quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, who started in place of the injured Tanner Morgan.
Penn State shook off another dispirited start on offense and came to life in the second quarter. The Lions scored on three consecutive drives, turning what was a 3-0 deficit into a 17-3 lead thanks to a Jake Pinegar field goal and a pair of Sean Clifford touchdown passes to two different tight ends.
Penn State had a chance to bury the Gophers in the first half as Minnesota faced a third-and-long situation backed up deep in its own territory. But Le’Meke Brockington hauled in a tightly contested catch, just getting in foot down inbounds. Sparked by that, Minnesota ultimately finished a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive capped by a Mo Ibrahim touchdown run.
Speaking of Ibrahim, he battled to get his 15th consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 102 yards on 30 carries and a score.