The Penn State Nittany Lions have once again started slow on the road, going down 10-0 early in the first quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The trend continued on into the second quarter, and the Nittany Lions enter the break down by two scores. Minnesota seemed to be in total control of the first half, having little trouble with the Nittany Lions.
A Bill Belton fumble on the first play of the game gave the Gophers a short field to start. The Penn State defense held, allowing just a field goal. However, a short drive by the Nittany Lions on offense gave the ball right back to Minnesota.
The Alex Butterworth punt was downed deep in Minnesota territory, giving the Gophers a long field to work with. Even with the poor field position, Minnesota was able to drive the length of the field, aided by two conversions on third-and-long and a fourth-down. The drive ended when David Cobb found the end zone from one yard out.
Minnesota went on to score two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Quarterback Phillip Nelson threw for 165 yards with a touchdown and also ran for 32 yards and a score.
The Nittany Lions’ struggles on defense have continued in this game, missing tackles and allowing Minnesota to drive down the field. Penn State had a chance to go into the half only down seven, but the defense gave up a 74-yard drive at the end of the half that resulted in a Minnesota touchdown.
The defense has been ineffective at stopping third downs and even allowed two fourth-down conversions. The Golden Gophers converted seven of 10 third-down chances.
On offense, other than the fumble, things haven’t been terrible.
In a bit of a surprise, running back Zach Zwinak has been the most effective Penn State offensive player. Zwinak, who’s lost carries to Belton the last few weeks, ran hard and racked up 97 yards on 14 carries. He’s looked very impressive and showed the power running that he’s come to be known for.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg had a quiet half, completing five of his six passes, but for just 48 yards. Wide receiver Allen Robinson, the Big Ten’s best receiver, was held to just two catches in the half.
Minnesota outgained Penn State 241-161 and held the ball for nearly twice as long in the first half. The Golden Gophers will get the ball coming out of halftime, putting pressure on the Penn Sate defense to get a stop early in the second half.
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