NCAAF Game Preview - Penn State at Minnesota
Sat Nov 9, 2019 12:00 PM EST

LSU
46
Ala
41
F
MD
14
OHSt
73
F
Clem
55
NCSt
10
F
PSU
26
Minn
31
F
Mizzu
0
UGA
27
F
IASt
41
Okla
42
F
Vand
0
Fla
56
F
Bayl
29
TCU
23
F(2OT)
ND
38
Duke
7
F
Iowa
22
Wisc
24
F
UConn
3
Cin
48
F
K St
24
Tex
27
F
Wyo
17
Boise
20
F OT
Wake
17
VaTec
36
F
ECU
51
SMU
59
F
Nev
17
SDSU
13
F
Kent
33
Toled
35
F
Ball
31
WestMI
35
F
MiaOH
24
Ohio
21
F
ULLaf
48
CoCar
7
F
Temp
17
SoFL
7
F
UCF
31
Tuls
34
F
Wash
19
OreSt
7
F
Purd
24
NW
22
F
W Ky
45
Ark
19
F
TxTch
38
WVU
17
F
FlaSt
38
BC
31
F
UMass
7
Army
63
F
GATec
28
UVA
33
F
UTSA
24
OD
23
F
SoAl
28
TxSt
30
F
Char
28
UTEP
21
F
Stan
13
Colo
16
F
GaSo
28
Troy
49
F
USC
31
AzSt
26
F
UAB
2
SMiss
37
F
Ill
37
MSU
34
F
Lou
27
MiaFL
52
F
NMSt
3
Miss
41
F
NorTx
17
LaTec
52
F
GASt
31
ULMon
45
F
FLInt
7
FlAtl
37
F
UtSt
37
Fres
35
F
WaSt
20
Cal
33
F
App
20
SCar
15
F
Lib
24
BYU
31
F
Tenn
17
KY
13
F
SJSU
40
Hawaii
42
F
Penn St.-Minnesota Preview
Fri Nov 8, 2019 3:52 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The college football spotlight this weekend has been aimed at Alabama, where LSU's visit will mark the first regular-season meeting of the top two teams in the Associated Press poll since those same teams played eight years ago.

There is quite the undercard on the schedule, too, another matchup of unbeaten teams that will be staged, believe it or not, in Minnesota: When No. 5 Penn State visits TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, No. 13 Minnesota will take part for the first time in 15 years in a game with both sides ranked in the top 15.

"You've got P.J. Fleck in his third year trying to get these guys to really believe, `Hey, this is what we can do. You guys have bought into the offseason program, and we can win games, and now look at us. We're undefeated, and we're playing Penn State, and everybody's talking about us. This is who we are. This is your new Minnesota,"' said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, before raving about James Franklin's six seasons of work reviving a long-time power: "Penn State's brand is back."

The outcome will have a significant impact on the Big Ten championship chase. The Nittany Lions (8-0, 5-0, No. 4 CFP) are tied with Ohio State for first place in the East Division two weeks ahead of a showdown against the Buckeyes, and the Golden Gophers (8-0, 5-0, No. 17 CFP) have a two-game lead on Iowa and Wisconsin in the West Division with the Hawkeyes and Badgers facing each other on Saturday.

The College Football Playoff field will be influenced, too, with Penn State landing in the top four in the first edition of the rankings. True to form for their profession, however, Fleck and Franklin have each taken the one-game-at-a-time mentality to the extreme, insisting on the isolated goal of going 1-0 this week.

"It just takes a lot of stress off you," Penn State running back Journey Brown said. "You don't have to worry about the future. You don't have to worry about what happened before. You focus on what's coming up."

The Nittany Lions, whose last national championship was in 1986, have yet to be selected for the four-team playoff. They won the Big Ten title in 2016, though, presenting the Gophers a program to strive for.

"We're on our way to building that in terms of restoring our tradition from the past to the present," Fleck said, later adding: "You earned the right for a big game because of what you've done. The only way to continue to have that is keep having success in these big games, big moments."

CROWD PLEASING

Minnesota declared a sellout of its 50,850-seat facility, the first capacity crowd in 27 games since the 2015 season finale against Wisconsin (52,850). The announced attendance for November home games last year for the Gophers was just 31,068 (Purdue) and 32,134 (Northwestern).

CALL HIM, NOT ME

Despite his status at a prominent program, Franklin's name often lands on the speculative lists of candidates for vacancies, real or expected, that emerge with other powers around the country. Florida State became the latest example, after the recent firing there. Franklin slyly steered the subject at his news conference this week toward his counterpart and friend, Fleck, who also surfaced as a person of interest for the Seminoles.

"I've also heard P.J.'s name mentioned a bunch, so you guys could spend a lot of time calling him and talking to him," Franklin said.

Fleck signed a contract extension through 2026 about two hours later.

"What we're building here, it's just really exciting," quarterback Tanner Morgan said.

SHELTON SHELVED

Penn State's starting front four will be down one Saturday as junior defensive tackle Antonio Shelton serves a one-game suspension. He spit at a Michigan State player in the fourth quarter at Michigan State on Oct. 26, when he was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and ejected from the game. Sophomore P.J. Mustipher is listed as the starter for this week.

HARDWARE TO STORE

Minnesota has rich rivalries with border-state foes Iowa and Wisconsin and a trophy game with Michigan, matchups that have each been staged more than 80 times. The Gophers have a newer prize to play for against Penn State, too, the much-less-celebrated Governor's Victory Bell that the Nittany Lions repossessed with a 29-26 overtime win in their last meeting in 2016 to take a 9-5 lead in the series.

The Gophers grabbed it after a 24-10 victory at home in 2013, a little too hard, actually. The trophy came apart when the boisterous players tried to hoist it in too many different directions, needing some repair. The governors of Minnesota and Pennsylvania commissioned the hardware in 1993, when the Gophers were the opponent for the inaugural Big Ten game for the Nittany Lions.

POINTS ON THE BOARD

Minnesota has outscored conference foes 206-72 and posted 28 points or more in all eight games, the first such streak by the Gophers since 1904 when they still had high school teams on the schedule. Penn State has allowed just 77 points, the second-fewest in the FBS.

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