Big Ten preview: Gophers vs. Penn State; Nelson named starter


The red-hot Gophers host Penn State for an 11:00 a.m. kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. A win would put the Gophers in the mix in the Big Ten Legends standings, and at 8-2 overall.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: A win would give Minnesota its first four-game win streak in Big Ten play in 40 years. 1973 was the last year the Gophers won four consecutive games within the conference.

BIG TEN STANDINGS: The Gophers (7-2, 3-2) sit in third place in the Legends Division. Michigan State (8-1, 5-0) sits atop the division with Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) just ahead of Minnesota. Michigan (6-2, 2-2) is a half-game behind the Gophers.

SERIES HISTORY: Believe it or not, the Gophers and Penn State have only played 13 times. The longest win streak for either team is four games. If Penn State can pull the upset on Saturday, they'll be the first in the series to win five in a row. The most memorable game for Minnesota fans came in 1999 when Dan Nystrom booted a 32-yard field goal to beat the No. 2 Nittany Lions.

LINEUP NOTES:Philip Nelson is listed as the starting quarterback on the Gophers' depth chart. Mitch Leidner had started the previous two games before Nelson entered both games and led Minnesota to wins. Nelson's four-touchdown game at Indiana last week earned him co-offensive player of the week in the Big Ten.

THE LATEST LINE, OUR PREDICTION:According to Vegas Insider, the Gophers are two-and-a-half-point favorite. TCF Bank Stadium should be rocking on Saturday, and the way Minnesota is playing inspired football, we don't think they'll fall short of that four-game win streak. Gophers 34, Penn State 24.

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