The Gophers won their fourth straight conference game with a 24-10 win over Penn State at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota grabbed momentum on the very first offensive play from scrimmage when the defense caused, then recovered a Bill Belton fumble. That turnover, one of two on the day led to a field goal that set the tone.
"We played as hard as we could today and at the end of the day, that is what really matters," coach Jerry Kill said. "I thought we had great defensive stands at critical times."
The second fumble recovery came with the game still in the balance and Penn State driving. On second and goal, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg fumbled the ball on the Gophers one yard line.
"We preach every day that we have to defend every inch," said Kill. "We have to have a short memory and play every play as hard as we can. We're playing hard, and it's allowing good things to happen."
Hackenberg, just a freshman, led the Big 10 in passing entering the game, but never found a rhythm in the game and after Penn State had success moving the ball on the ground, he only threw the ball 25 times for 163 yards.
"We did a good job defending their receivers," Kill said. "The one series where I wasn't sure what they were going to do was when they were in their own territory and still needed two scores to tie."
Gophers running back David Cobb rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game finishing with 140 yards on 27 carries. Establishing that running game has allowed the team to control the line of scrimmage and the time of possession.
Quarterback Philip Nelson continues to improve and was an efficient 15-for-25 for 186 yards and a pair of scores, one on the ground and a 24 yard pass to Maxx Williams that gave the Gophers their final score of the contest.
The win gives the Gophers a four game conference winning streak for the first time since the 1960's. With two games remaining in the regular season, the Gophers will host Wisconsin in two weeks to play for Paul Bunyan's axe.