Nittany Lions Host Minnesota in 90th Homecoming Game
Oct. 16, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (5-1, 1-1) will host Minnesota for the Nittany Lions' 90th Homecoming contest on Saturday.
The game, which is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Beaver Stadium, will be regionally televised by ABC and will also air on the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com. ESPN will broadcast the conference contest outside of the ABC coverage area.
Penn State is hosting Minnesota as its Homecoming opponent for the third time in program history. In 1997, the Nittany Lions rallied for a 16-15 win. In 1999, Minnesota kicked a field goal on the final play to beat unbeaten and No. 2 Penn State, 24-23. Penn State owns an impressive 64-20-5 record in front of the alumni audience, winning 38 of 43 Homecoming games under Joe Paterno.
Penn State and Minnesota will also battle for the Governors' Victory Bell. Established in 1993 when the Nittany Lions began Big Ten play, the Bell is joined by the Land Grant Trophy (Michigan State) as Penn State's two trophy contests.
Last week, Penn State scored 38 first half points, including 28 in the final 7:27 of the second quarter, en route to a 52-3 throttling of Eastern Illinois in Beaver Stadium.
Quarterback Daryll Clark helmed a balanced offense that racked up a season-high 553 total yards (285 rushing, 268 passing), throwing for 234 yards on 13 of 19 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. Running back Evan Royster led the charge on the ground, gaining 94 yards on just eight carries (11.8 avg.)
The Penn State defense, which has yet to allow a first half touchdown this season, limited EIU to just 59 rushing and 147 passing yards and posted 11 tackles for loss. Linebacker Navorro Bowman provided the highlight moment for the unit, returning a fumble 91 yards for a touchdown in the waning moments of the first half. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick recorded a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks, while linebacker Josh Hull registered a team-best 11 tackles.
Minnesota (4-2) upped its Big Ten record to 2-1 last week with a come-from-behind 35-20 victory over Purdue. The Boilermakers took a 10-0 first quarter lead, but a pair of one-yard run by DeLeon Eskridge gave Minnesota a 14-13 halftime lead. The Gophers took control in the third quarter, including a 47-yard return of a blocked field goal to push the lead to 35-13 late in the third quarter. The Gophers had three players with at least 40 yards rushing en route to 207 for the game and forced three turnovers.
The Minnesota offense is powered by the quarterback-receiver combination of Adam Weber and Eric Decker. Weber is 96 of 168 (57.1) for 1,224 yards and six touchdowns this season, five of which have gone to Decker. Decker leads the Big Ten in receptions (46), average receiving yards per game (114.8) and is tied for the lead with five touchdown catches.
The linebacking trio of Lee Campbell, Nate Triplett, and Simoni Lawrence, heads the Minnesota defense. Campbell leads the Gophers in tackles (64), good for second in the Big Ten, and tackles for loss (6.5). Triplett has 61 stops, to rank No. 4 in the conference, and top the team in solo tackles (42), interceptions (2), pass break-ups (4), and fumble recoveries (2). Lawrence ranks third in tackles with 50, including 3.5 for a loss, and has one sack and a forced fumble.
Saturday's match-up between the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers will be the teams' 11th meeting. Penn State leads the series, 6-4, but seven of the last eight match-ups have been decided by 10 points or less, including three one-point outcomes and an overtime contest the last time the teams clashed.
Following the Minnesota game, Penn State will take to the road for the second time this season, visiting Michigan on Oct. 24. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and will be regionally televised by ABC (ESPN outside ABC coverage area). The Wolverines are 4-2 (1-2 in the Big Ten) on the season and host Delaware State this weekend.