5th-Seeded Nittany Lions Move To Big Ten Semifinals

Sep 9 2017 Corvallis OR USA Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck encourages his players during the first half in a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT USATSI-359

The Penn State Nittany Lions got a little bit of timely help to score a key touchdown in Saturday's showdown with Minnesota.

Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct a dismantling of Penn State's staunch defense, as Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained undefeated but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.

BEST CATCH You won't see many better than Tyler Johnson's 38-yard, one-handed touchdown reception along the Minnesota sideline midway through the second quarter on Saturday.

Parsons, the leading tackler on the team and one of the best recruits on Penn State's roster, apparently did not start the game because of a "behavioral" issue. He's third on the team in tackles and is second in the FBS with five interceptions.

P.J. Fleck's team went into halftime with a 24-13 lead, and with no turnovers and plus two interceptions against Penn State, Minnesota had to be feeling confident after the first 30 minutes.

Minnesota running back Rodney Smith vs. Penn State's front seven. Another big carry from Brown helped Penn State drive in to Gopher's territory on the ensuing possession, but the Nittany Lions couldn't punch it into the end zone. Twice facing third-and-long in the third quarter, the Gophers connected for 21- and 36-yard completions.

A date with No. 4 Penn State would set the record straight, and Minnesota straightened it out quite well in a 31-26 defeat at home in Minneapolis. The score gave the Gophers a 14-7 lead and demonstrated the true potency Minnesota's offense was bringing to the field. Along with the missed opportunity, the 5-point deficit turned into 12 points on the next Gopher touchdown.

MOST TELLING MOMENT It wasn't so much a moment, but a series of moments, for Penn State's pass defense on Saturday afternoon.

Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history.

But now the Gophers have a signature win over a team the committee clearly respected: Penn State.