Gophers roll past Penn State, surge into top 10

Tyler Johnson makes a one-handed catch and tiptoes down the sideline for a touchdown against Penn State.

With each passing week, the winning streak for the Gopher football team has necessitated comparisons to another era. First it was the team’s best start since 2003, then 1960, and then 1941. Now the Gophers are off to their best start since 1904, and that was truly a different era. (The forward pass had just come into fashion about 15 years earlier.)

These are historic times for the 9-0 Gophers, who upended No. 5 Penn State 31-26 Saturday in easily the most exciting game from start to finish in TCF Bank Stadium’s 11-year history. Minnesota never trailed in the game, and when the final seconds ticked away after a victory-preserving interception by Jordan Howden, many in the euphoric, standing-room-only crowd of 51,883 stormed the field to celebrate.

The Gophers are now ranked #7 in the nation in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls, and maintain their two-game lead in the Big Ten’s West Division over Wisconsin with three games left to play. 

Many Gopher players shone on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was 18-for-20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns, and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. His top receiving target, Rashod Batemen, caught seven passes for 203 yards, the second most receiving yardage in Minnesota history.

And on defense, Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted two passes—both of which led directly to touchdowns—and made 11 tackles (9 solo). His seven interceptions for the season ties the school record set by Jeff Wright in 1970.

Next up for the Gophers is a critical game in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. Minnesota has lost four straight to Iowa.