Minnesota-Penn State predictions: Who thinks the Gophers will win?
With Minnesota having its biggest game in (fill in the blank) years this Saturday. we thought it might be interesting to see what the analysts across the web thought about the Gophers’ matchup against Penn State.
After all, both teams are undefeated and ranked (Minnesota is No. 13 in the AP poll, No. 17 in the College Football Playoff rankings; Penn State is No.5 and No. 4).
Also, the Gophers are nearly a touchdown underdog. At home. With a perfect 8-0 record. How many times does that happen?
So, the polls and Vegas aren’t fully believing in Minnesota yet. What about our predictors? Well, let’s say it’s kind of like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” (Where’s Goldy?), you kind of need to search around to find those thinking the Gophers will win.
Still, while the vast majority think Penn State will win, not all do. With that being said, here’s the predictions from around the web for the Minnesota Gophers game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at TCF Bank Stadium (and cast your vote at the bottom of the page for who you think will win):
The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo: Penn State 23, Minnesota 17.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Penn State 23, Minnesota 16. “Penn State will struggle early on. This isn’t a team that puts a ton of points on the board, and it’s going to have to deal with two great early Gopher drives that produce points. But the Nittany Lion pass rush will take over as the game goes on, Minnesota won’t be able to get its downfield passing game going, and in a low-scoring fight, two late PSU scoring drives will break Gopher hearts.”
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Penn State 24, Minnesota 16.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Penn State 27, Minnesota 24. “Since a scare-filled opening to the season, Minnesota has outscored its last four opponents 168-41. Though the competition level wasn’t high, that’s a dominant stretch. We’re still leaning toward Penn State because of a defense that allows fewer than four yards per snap, but Minnesota’s aerial efficiency gives the Gophers a shot.”
Josh Slagter of MLive.com: Penn State 24, Minnesota 23. “Just a couple Big Ten unbeatens squaring off in Minneapolis. Credit to P.J. Fleck and the Gophers, but Penn State isn’t anything like what they’ve faced so far in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions’ run defense is stout (1.9 yards per carry), and Tanner Morgan will deal with a constant pass rush. Minnesota’s defense has been solid as well, but Sean Clifford (20 TD, 3 INT) has been the Big Ten’s best QB outside of Columbus. The game could come down to who makes the big play in the game’s best matchup: KJ Hamler vs. Antoine Winfield Jr.”
Zac Al-Khateeb of The Sporting News: Penn State 27, Minnesota 17. “A pair of undefeated conference foes face off in what would easily be the game if it weren’t for that pesky SEC matchup in Tuscaloosa. The Gophers enter this game having outscored their last four opponents (Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland) by a combined score of 170-41. Penn State hasn’t been as dominant on the scoreboard, but the Nittany Lions have the advantage of knowing how to win grind-it-out games against Iowa and Michigan. Penn State has the nation’s second-best rush defense (68.4 yards per game) and a pair of defensive ends in Shaka Toney and Yetur Gross-Matos who have 5.5 sacks apiece. If Minnesota running backs Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith (1,196 combined rushing yards, 13 touchdowns) have trouble piercing the Nittany Lions’ front seven, then the Gophers could be in trouble. Sean Clifford turns in an efficient outing to lead Penn State to 9-0 on the season.”
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Penn State 27, Minnesota 24 (OT). “How will Minnesota handle its first big-stage moment … on the week that P.J. Fleck signed a huge contract extension? The Gophers have assembled a really solid season portfolio to date, but they have not faced a defense even close to the likes of Penn State. Lost in Minnesota’s impressive offense is a decent defense that leads the Big Ten with 11 interceptions and allowed 10.3 points per game in October. Penn State is the better team, but the Gophers just seem to have some magic going. Four quarters might not settle this.”
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com: Penn State 31, Minnesota 21. “The Gophers are a good team, but I don’t think they’re good enough to beat Penn State. The Penn State defense is unlike anything the Gophers have seen to this point. Plus, this is a situation that Penn State is used to. It has played in big games with high-stakes. Minnesota hasn’t. I can’t help but think the stage could overwhelm Minnesota here. They won’t get blown out, but they won’t cover, either.”
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Penn State 26, Minnesota 24. “Penn State may have the advantages in talent and depth, and the Nittany Lions have certainly been more battle-tested against quality competition. But Minnesota’s success is not all smoke and mirrors. This team is getting better and more confident by the week. The Gophers won’t be intimidated by Penn State, but just how many points are they capable of scoring on this Penn State defense? In the end, it may not be enough. Penn State gets a great battle from Minnesota but escapes this one with a win.”
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic ($): Penn State 27, Minnesota 14. “P.J. Fleck has a very experienced defense and a big-time secondary that should be able to limit some of Penn State’s big plays. But the Nittany Lions are by far the most athletic and talented team the Gophers have faced, and I think Penn State hands them their first loss.”
Stewart Mandel of The Athletic ($): Penn State 28, Minnesota 20. “The committee lauded Penn State’s defense for holding seven of its eight opponents to 13 points or less. Here’s guessing Tanner Morgan and the Gophers fare better. But this game could be a shock for Minnesota’s defense, whose five Big Ten opponents to date are ranked 74th or lower nationally in yards per play.”
The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel: Penn State 41, Minnesota 7. “Biggest game in Minneapolis, well, not counting the Vikings, in decades. But one team is legit. The other is a fraud.”
Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times: Penn State 31, Minnesota 20.
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune doesn’t pick a winner, per se (he picks against the spread), but notes “Minnesota’s money men are believers in Fleck, as am I. If quarterback Tanner Morgan can survive the Penn State defensive line, the Gophers can win outright.”
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: Penn State 31, Minnesota 27.
Rainer Sabin of the Detroit Free Press: Penn State 27, Minnesota 17.
Joe Vozzelli of the Champaign News-Gazette: Penn State 27, Minnesota 21.
James Kratch of NJ.com: Doesn’t offer a score, but picks Penn State to win.
Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Penn State 31, Minnesota 17. “Are the Golden Gophers for real? Not so much according to the College Football Playoff committee, which slotted unbeaten Minnesota No. 17, behind six two-loss teams. Credit P.J. Fleck’s team for winning close games, but narrow victories over South Dakota State, Fresno State and Georgia Southern count as stains on the credentials. The Nittany Lions and their elite rush defense will smother the Gophers all day.”
Joseph Goodman and Lee Sterling of Al.com: Goodman – Minnesota 21, Penn State 18; Sterling: Minnesota 24, Penn State 23.
Brad Crawford and Chris Hummer of 247 Sports: Crawford – Penn State 31, Minnesota 24; Hummer – Penn State 28, Minnesota 24.
Al Arend of the Herald-Palladium: Penn State 27, Minnesota 22.
Joe Broback of Champions Insider: Minnesota 28, Penn State 27. “With two ranked wins already on their resume, this weekend’s game doesn’t present anything Penn State hasn’t seen already. James Franklin, who deserves more credit than he’s getting for this 8-0 start, will have his team prepared regardless of the weather. Minnesota just feels like a different team this year. If they are, an upset’s possible. If they’re not, Gophers fans will wonder again if they’ll ever see an elite team. They’ve already shown they can play great football, and now it’s time for them to take another step.”
Bill Connelly of ESPN: His S&P+ projection has it Penn State 28, Minnesota 26.
SportsLine Projection Model: Penn State 27, Minnesota 17.
All nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have Penn State winning and only four think Minnesota will cover a seven-point spread.
Six of seven analysts at SI.com think Penn State will emerge with a victory with Lorenzo Arguello the lone exception – he’s picking the Gophers. Pat Forde writes: “The Gophers’ biggest home game since 1961, after the program’s first 8–0 start since 1941, is unfortunately overshadowed by the happenings in Tuscaloosa. P.J. Fleck has done what he was hired to do, elevating Minnesota to a new level—but let’s be honest, the Gophers still haven’t played anybody. Best opponent to date, according to the Sagarin Ratings: No. 60 Nebraska. Penn State’s Big Ten–leading rushing defense will challenge the Minnesota ground game. If Fleck wins this one, we’ll all be in the rowboat with him going forward.”
All three analysts at Oregonlive.com are picking Penn State to win. The scores: Ken Goe, 28-24; Sean Meagher, 38-29; Joel Odom, 31-20.
All six analysts at USAToday.com pick Penn State to win.
Five of seven CBSSports.com analysts think Penn State will win – Dennis Dodd and Chip Patterson are the exceptions — and only one of the other five (Barton Simmons) has the Gophers covering a 6 1/2-point spread.
All three Athlon Sports analysts are picking Penn State to win.
Two of the three analysts at FootballScoop.com pick Penn State to win with Scott Roussel taking Minnesota.
Three of the four pickers at KSL.com are taking Penn State.