The last time the Gophers faced Penn State

A Penn St. overtime victory helped save James Franklin’s job.

by John Miller

It has been three years since Minnesota last faced Penn State on the gridiron. Entering the game, the Gophers held a 3-0 record, while the Nittany Lions sat at 2-2. That game took place on Oct. 1, 2016 in University Park, Pennsylvania. 

It’s a game that a lot of Penn State fans are happy they won for one big reason. Head coach James Franklin was in the hot seat, and many thought losing to the Gophers would be the final straw. However, Franklin and the Nittany Lions pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat with a 29-26 overtime win. Since then, the team has gone on to have a lot of success with Franklin at the helm. 

Minnesota got out to a 13-3 lead going into halftime off of two Emmit Carpenter field goals and a nine-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Leidner to wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky.

However, Penn State didn’t go down without a fight. Current Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Trace McSorley completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Irvin Charles with just under ten minutes remaining in the third quarter to cut the Nittany Lions’ deficit to three.

Penn State went on to score the next 10 points thanks to a 27-yard field goal from kicker Tyler Davis and a six-yard touchdown run from McSorley to give the Nittany Lions a seven-point lead over the Gophers, 20-13, heading into the fourth quarter.

Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Minnesota struck back and tied the game up on a 37-yard touchdown run from Shannon Brooks. 

Things were looking good for the Gophers as the game wound down. They drove the ball down the field on an 11-play, 58-yard drive to set up a field goal and take the lead with 54 seconds remaining in the game.

But they left too much time on the clock, as Penn State drove 53 yards into Minnesota territory and hit a 40-yard field goal to send the game into overtime tied at 23. 

Minnesota got the ball in overtime first, but couldn’t get much going so they were forced to kick a field goal to take a 26-23 lead.

After holding future star NFL running back Saquon Barkley to just 19 attempts for 38 yards all game, on the first play in overtime for the Penn State offense, Barkley took the ball 25 yards to the house to win the game for the Nittany Lions, 29-26. 

Quotes from the game

“It’s pretty obvious it hurts,” Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys said to the media after the game. “We’ll be up in the morning and we’ll be back and ready to go.”

“That is what you live for,” Barkley told the media after his touchdown run. “I’m pretty sure they blitzed and the offensive line picked up the run blitz so well and got so much movement. It parted like the Red Sea. When I got through, I got on the safety and I was kind of running to the left and I was like, ‘oh I’ve to got make him miss somehow no matter what.’ I was fortunate to make him miss and get in the end zone and be able to score the go-ahead touchdown.”

“That was big and [the players] are having a great time in locker room,” Franklin told the media after the game. “They are partying in there. Have you guys ever seen the movie ‘Soul Plane?’ That’s what it looks like in there. They’re going crazy.”