Great Start Propels Lady Lions to Opening Night Win at Geneva

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. – A 27-point first quarter helped the Penn State Altoona women’s basketball team win its season opener on Wednesday night, defeating Geneva College 82-63 in the Metheny Fieldhouse.

Penn State Altoona (1-0) built a big 27-10 advantage by the end of the first quarter, during which the team shot 53.8 percent (7-for-13) from the field, including going 3-for-4 from three-point range. The Lady Lions never looked back, maintaining their lead the rest of the way and cruising to the 19-point victory.

“It feels great to open with a win. We did a lot of really nice things tonight and showed such unselfish play – at times, a little too unselfish,” said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. “We ended with 20 assists, and our scoring was relatively balanced, which speaks to the level of our ball distribution. Our first quarter set the tone in a big way, when we shot 53.8 percent from the field and 75 percent from behind the arc.”

Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) had a big night for Penn State Altoona at both ends of the floor, posting a double-double with a game-high 23 points and team-high 12 rebounds. Her scoring effort included going 10-for-12 from the free throw line and shooting 6-for-10 from the field. Cannistraci also finished with a game-high five steals while contributing three assists and two blocks.

Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) added 12 points, and Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored 11 points while recording four steals, three rebounds, and three assists. Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) came off the bench to tie her career-high with 10 points, and Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) led all players in the game with six assists while also posting nine rebounds, eight points, and a team-high three blocks.

“Lex showed up big time, ending with a double-double. It’s nice to see her get to the free throw line as much as she did, where she shot 83 percent. Paige was close to a double-double with nine rebounds and eight points. She’ll get one this year, I’m certain of it,” Wilt said. “Liv and Kass [Kassidy Sorichetti] came off the bench and gave us a big lift defensively. Liv got it done offensively, as well. She played great, one of her best games.”

Geneva (0-1) was led in scoring by Emily Melnek, who finished with 18 points. The Golden Tornadoes also got a 17-rebound, 15-point effort from Lauren Tipton, as well as 13 points from Isabella Roth.

After Geneva had started the game by grabbing a 5-2 lead, Penn State Altoona jumped ahead midway through the first quarter when Burk’s layup at 6:39 put the visitors up 6-5. After a layup from Cannistraci, Snyder hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to extend the Lady Lions’ lead to 14-7. Burk’s three-pointer and Borlie’s layup increased their team’s lead to 19-10 by 4:31, and free throws from Christine, Borlie, Chloe Inman (Annville, PA/Annville-Cleona), Kassidy Sorichetti (Halifax, PA/Halifax), Cannistraci, and Sarah Huston (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) combined to tack nine more points on to Penn State Altoona’s total by the end of the period.

In the second quarter, Geneva trimmed its deficit to eight points on two different occasions. Roth’s jumper at 7:30 made it 27-19, and Tipton’s layup at 5:08 narrowed Penn State Altoona’s lead to 29-21. But the Lady Lions did not allow Geneva to get any closer, and late three-pointers from Burk and Cannistraci helped Penn State Altoona get back to a 16-point lead, 41-25, by halftime.

Penn State Altoona picked up where it left off in the third quarter, as Snyder and Christine each connected from three-point range to increase their team’s lead to 47-25 by 8:45, establishing the Lady Lions’ largest lead of the game. Later in the quarter, another Snyder trey and layups from Christine and Borlie gave Penn State Altoona a 21-point advantage, 61-40, heading into the game’s final period.

Cannistraci and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) combined for 15 of Penn State Altoona’s 21 points during the fourth quarter, helping their team hold a comfortable lead. Back-to-back Strittmatter layups made it 68-51 by 6:42, and baskets from Cannistraci, Sorichetti, and Strittmatter helped put the difference at 75-57 with 3:17 remaining.

Penn State Altoona finished the game with statistical advantages over Geneva in assists (20-14), turnovers (22-30), points off turnovers (24-19), points in the paint (30-18), fastbreak points (9-5), and bench points (22-15).

“We need to clean up the little things, like taking care of the ball and hitting the boards offensively,” said Wilt. “If we can make those adjustments along with tightening up our defense, I think we will be able to challenge our opponents on an even higher level.”

Next up, the Penn State Altoona women’s basketball team hosts its home opener this Friday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m. against Saint Vincent College.

“I’m proud of this group of ladies. They’ve been working hard, and it paid off for them,” said Wilt. “We need to come in focused tomorrow and be ready to work so that we’re prepared for a very skill St. Vincent team on Friday.”

Friday night’s game is Mountain Lion Backpack Night in the Adler Athletic Complex. All fans who bring items to donate to the Mountain Lion Backpack Program will receive free admission to the game. For more information on the program and suggested food items to donate, visit

Changing the Narrative: The Curse of the Post-Loss Letdown

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Penn State continued its yearly tradition of laying an egg in big games, as the Nittany Lions fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a score of 31-26. Before I unleash on the garbage performance Penn State put in on Saturday, I have to give a lot of credit to Minnesota. I said Tanner Morgan wouldn’t win this game for the Gophers, I was wrong. I doubted Minnesota’s ability to diversify their offense by throwing the ball, I was wrong. I wrote off an undefeated, top-ranked Minnesota team, and I was wrong. So all credit to PJ Fleck and Minnesota, congratulations and hopefully this Cinderella season continues.

Now to the Nittany Lions. I said Sean Clifford’s pre bye week performance vs. Michigan State was his best one yet and this weekend was the complete opposite. He looked antsy in the pocket, under-threw the ball on at least half of his passes, and made multiple poor decisions which resulted in three turnovers.  He did throw for over 300 yards, but it sure didn’t feel like that. Clifford has set the bar high with performances this season and it has made us easily forget that he’s still a first-year starter. Even though he deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s disappointing to see a quarterback on an upward trend fall back down real quick. 

Alongside Clifford’s bad performance, the majority of the offense also followed suit. Penn State’s big-play guys like KJ Hamler and Pat Friermuth still performed. Journey Brown also had his best game of the season and made a good case on why he should get as many, if not more, touches as Noah Cain. But outside of them, the receiving core couldn’t catch a ball for their lives. I don’t blame Clifford for only targeting a selected few because the rest of them can’t catch. I wanted Clifford to find secondary receiving options in this game, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is capable of stepping into that role.  I was most disappointed in Justin Shorter, who has still not lived up to his five star potential. Also, Ricky Rahne had one of the worst play calling games I’ve ever seen from him. Penn State’s offense was unstoppable from 20 yard line to 20 yard line and abysmal inside the red zone. James Franklin loves loyalty, but Rahne’s seat better be burning up under him because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this.

The usually dominant Penn State defense was torched during this game, especially through the air. Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect on the day and Rashod Bateman had over 200 yards alone. If there was any weakness on this Penn State defense, it was expected to be the secondary, but no one could have predicted that they would be this bad. Tariq Castro-Fields was atrocious and other veterans like John Reid and Garett Taylor made uncharacteristic mistakes that cost Penn State in this game.

Penn State was lucky to have a chance to win this game. They got played off the field on both sides of the ball. I’ve alluded that this Penn State team has been playing with house money at times and they finally went bust this weekend. Penn State’s path to the playoff was always going to go through Columbus, but this loss took away any margin of error Penn State might have had. It sucks, but the show must go on. We need to remember all is not lost and we need to keep chugging along. It’s time to go 1-0 this week. Let’s take a look at the Nittany Lions’ opponent for this weekend, the Hoosiers from the University of Indiana.

At First Glance…

The Hoosiers have had a great season by their standards so far, sitting at a 7-2 record, which is good for 3rd in the Big Ten East. Similar to Minnesota, Indiana has beaten all teams you expect them to beat. Outside of their victories against Maryland and Nebraska, every other victory they’ve had has been relatively comfortable. Their other victories have come against Ball State, East Illinois, UConn, Rutgers, and Northwestern.

Indiana’s two losses have come against generally superior opponents in Ohio State and Michigan State. There’s not much anyone can do about the Buckeyes, but the loss against Michigan State is disappointing considering the down year that the Spartans have had so far. Indiana is coming into this game vs. the Nittany Lions ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll and possibly will slip into the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday.

A Deeper Look…

The big story of the Indiana offense this season has been the emergence of freshman quarterback Micheal Penix Jr. The redshirt freshman from Tampa, Florida has accounted for 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on the season. But, sadly for Indiana, Penix Jr. suffered a season-ending injury against Northwestern, meaning Penn State will face a familiar foe in Peyton Ramsey. The junior play caller lost the quarterback battle to Penix Jr. before the season but has still seen a decent amount of action this season. Ramsey has accounted for 1,302 yards on the season, tallying up 9 touchdowns and only throwing 3 interceptions. Even though Penix Jr. is a better dual-threat quarterback, Ramsey is experienced and has also proved he can make plays with his legs. Ramsey’s experience will be crucial for Indiana as they come up against a very talented Penn State front seven. 

Indiana’s main feature back comes in the form of Stevie Scott III. The sophomore from Syracuse, New York leads the team in rushing by far. He has run the ball 148 times, for 737 yards, and nine touchdowns. He’s on a mission to match the great numbers he put up last year, where he ran for over 1,000 yards. Indiana has spread the wealth through the air so far this season. Indiana’s main receiver this season has been junior Whop Philyor. He leads the Hoosiers with 59 catches for 813 yards and three touchdowns. Indiana’s big-play receiving threat comes from tight end, Peyton Hendershot. Hendershot has 4 touchdowns on the season and leads the team with 13.5 yards per catch. Expect Ramsey to look for Hendershot a lot over the middle, especially when Penn State sends their linebacker blitz packages Ramsey’s way.

Indiana’s defensive unit is not one with a true standout player but again boasts a solid unit. Allen Stallings IV and Demarcus Elliot are two players on Indiana’s defensive line that will cause issues for Penn State and Sean Clifford in the backfield. The Indiana secondary is the weakest link of this defense. Tiawan Mullen, Bryant Fitzgerald, and Jaylin Williams highlight the sub-par Indiana secondary. The Indiana defense is a solid unit, but they provide a nice break for this Penn State offense who has faced top defenses during their last four games.

Connor’s Keys to the Game…

Indiana- Let it Fly

Penn State’s secondary is their weakest link. We’ve seen all quarterbacks from Kenny Pickett from Pitt to the quarterback from Buffalo have career days vs. the Nittany Lions. Indiana’s offensive play calling has to be for Ramsey to let it fly. Throw the ball a lot, especially a lot of screens and underneath routes. Penn State’s inability to stop the pass has been concerning and they showed all their flaws vs. Minnesota. Establish a good passing game vs. the Nittany Lions and Indiana will find success and put up points on the Nittany Lions.

Penn State- Execute

Trying to predict what this Penn State team needs to do is just tiring at this point. Establish a consistent running attack, find other receiving options, stop the pass. All these things I’ve said all season and Penn State has failed to impress me in any of those categories. I’m just tired. Let me tell you one thing, Penn State’s talent on paper blows Indiana out of the water. So, just execute as you should. Let your talent just run over the Hoosiers. Get the playmakers the ball, let the defense fly, and just suffocate Indiana with your talent and win this game. Please?


Give me this game in Bloomington, I would predict Penn State to lose. Luckily for us, it’s not, but that doesn’t mean I think this game will be a cakewalk. We’ve seen this Penn State team in years past get knocked down and then get knocked down again before they can get back up. The formula is there for another let down of epic proportions. It sounds crazy to say considering we thought Penn State could’ve made the playoffs this year, but prepare for a dogfight. Indiana is a solid football team, who bear in mind is currently ranked in the AP Top 25. But, with all this being said, I refuse to believe this formula of one letdown followed by another letdown will continue.  James Franklin will have the team fired up following last week, keep them focused on the opponent in front of them, and Penn State will be 1-0 this week. I’m expecting this game to remain close for large portions of this game, but Penn State will pull away in the end.

Score Prediction- Penn State 31, Indiana 17

It still hurts, but the show must go on. We’ve seen the same pattern for the last three seasons and that pattern is the reason why Penn State is still not on that elite level we know they can be on. Forget the Minnesota game last week and forget about the game against Ohio State next week, Indiana is the task at hand. It’s time to change the narrative. This is the crossroads, prove the haters wrong. Adversity is something we’re used to as a program, so for the love of all that is holy, overcome it. Indiana, Indiana, Indiana! Kickoff is set for noon on Saturday, November 16, from the comfy confines of Beaver Stadium. It’s going to be a cold one, so bundle up.  As James Franklin always says, “It begins with I love you and ends with I love you.” Back the boys, let’s change the narrative. Let’s get it Nittany Nation, WE ARE!


Penn State Basketball: One Week Down and We Might Just be Good

By Alex Yuncker

It is time to overreact, right now. Penn State opened its season with two non-conference foes that presented little challenge. They dominated both Maryland Eastern-Shore and Wagner. Between both games the Nittany Lions shot 48 percent from the field while opponents have put up a meager 37 percent. Beyond that, Penn State put up 84 and 91 points in both contests, which is exciting to see even though the competition has been lackluster thus far.

On defense is where they’ve shined thus far, allowing opponents only 55 points per game. And it’s not only the point total where the D is thriving, PSU has 19 steals and 13 blocks so far this season. They are going to need that type of defensive production if they plan on making a run in the Big Ten. So far, so good for the Lions. Now let’s take a quick look at each game individually. 

Penn State vs. Maryland Eastern-Shore: 84-46 W

The season opener was everything it needed to be for the Lions. The stars shined and the defensive production was great. Lamar Stevens lead the squad in scoring with his 17 points on 50 percent shooting. 

Meanwhile, five other players also put up double-digits in the scoring column (Mike Watkins, Myreon Jones, Myles Dread, Curtis Jones Jr., Izaiah Brockington). To say that’s a good sign is an understatement. Last year the team relied heavily on their main guys to put up points. Last year the leading scorer of the bench averaged only 4 points per game. This year the leading scorer of the bench, Izaiah Brockington, is averaging 11 points. Meanwhile Curtis Jones Jr. has put up a respectable 9 points per game off the bench as well, both well above last year’s high. If this will be the case throughout the year, this team could be dangerous.

Yet that offensive production does not exist if not for how they’ve managed themselves on the defensive side of the floor. PSU totaled 10 steals and 11 blocks, Mike Watkins swatted away 7 alone. Any game when you can hold a team to just 33 percent shooting, and 21 percent from three, it’s going to be pretty hard not to win. 

Penn State vs. Wagner: 91-64 W

The first half of Thursday’s game didn’t come pain free. In fact, going into the locker room PSU only lead 37-30. Whatever Coach Chambers said at the half worked because the boys came out hot to start the second half. The Lions put up 54 second half points, while Wagner simply could not keep up.

Myreon Jones lead the team in scoring with a solid 14 point outing. Yet again, the Nittany Lions had five players put up double digit performances in this one. It’s a positive trend to start the season, considering Penn State’s struggles with depth scoring in years past. This is maybe what I am most surprised about with this year’s team. The challenge will be finding a way to  keep putting up consistent numbers across the board

Meanwhile the defense was still stellar. The boys racked up nine steals in this one putting their season total at 19 through only two games. To put that into perspective Big Ten foes Indiana and Ohio State have a total of 14 steals among both of them. Penn State has to keep generating turnovers as it has been extremely helpful to their scoring production. There was a little buzz about this team being really solid defensively heading into the season and thus far they have stuck to that narrative. 

Up Next: @Georgetown 11/14, Bucknell 11/19

Stat Leaders: 

  • Points – Lamar Stevens (15.0)
  • Assists – Myreon Jones (4.5)
  • Rebounds – Mike Watkins (9.5)
  • Steals – Jamari Wheeler (3.5)
  • Blocks – Mike Watkins (4.0)



Lady Lions Volleyball Continues Quest for AMCC Glory

The Penn State Altoona Lady Lions volleyball team started its run for an Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference crown on Wednesday night, as the No. 4 Lady Lions hosted the No. 5 Franciscan University Lady Barons at Adler gym. The match was a game of runs, but the Lady Lions had relatively no trouble in defeating the Lady Barons, winning the match in a clean 3-0 sweep and advancing to the semifinal of the AMCC tournament. 

“The passing was on fire, spot-on tonight and our defense was phenomenal,” answered 12th-year coach Phil Peterman when asked about what went right for the Lady Lions during Wednesday’s night victory.

The Lady Lions have faced a season of ups and downs. Their non-conference slate saw the team sitting at a 3-7 record before conference play had even started. In the end, the Lady Lions finished with a 4-8 non-conference record with wins over Chatham University, Moravian College, Penn State Harrisburg and Waynesburg University.

“Well, it’s kind of planned every year to start the year off with very hard teams so that we get that experience early to help prepare us for conference play,” said Petermen when asked about the team’s slow start to the season.

The experience definitely did help this team as the second half of the season saw a complete turn around as the Lady Lions went 7-3 in conference play. The Lady Lions took full advantage of home court, winning all but one of their six home games on the season. The team’s late run of success, especially the six-game win streak towards the end of the season, propelled the Nittany Lions’ home-court advantage and the No. 4 seed in this year’s AMCC tournament. If not for a penultimate day loss to Pitt-Bradford, the Lady Lions could’ve been looking at a higher seed and a first-round bye.  

The Lady Lions this year have been propped up by a young core of freshmen and the leadership of only two seniors. Emily Bryan (Waynesboro, Pa.) and Lauren Diller (Chambersburg, Pa.) are the only seniors that have been tasked with leading this young core into the season. Alison Abrashoff (Dillsburg, Pa.), Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, Pa.), Tara Ryan (Waldwick, N.J.), Kristian Wineland (Altoona), and MacKenzie Reed (Duncansville, Pa.) are the only returning players to this squad outside of Bryan and Diller.  

Outside of the seven of them, nine freshmen occupy the remaining roster.

“A lot of these freshmen have played for some of the best club teams across the state of Pennsylvania,” said Peterman. “They had no trouble coming in, stepping on the court, and made an immediate impact on this team.”

That was evident on Wednesday night as multiple freshmen, especially Sara Russo (Lebanon, Pa.), Jenna Bauer (Ebensburg, Pa.), Lydia Mock (Alum Bank, Pa.), and Lexie Dorcon (Berlin, Pa.), all played big minutes in the Lady Lion’s victory over Franciscan.  

“This is by far the best team I’ve ever coached just because of how much fun they have,” said Peterman.

It was on full display in Adler Gym on Wednesday night as the Lady Lions were high energy in pre-game warm-ups and stayed high energy till the final point of the match.

The Lady Lions will now travel to Penn State Behrend to face a tough Behrend team who went a perfect 10-0 in conference play. The quest for an AMCC crown continues on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m. A victory on Saturday will propel the Lady Lions into the AMCC championship game and a chance for the school’s third conference title and a shot at an appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament. Let’s get out there and support our Lady Lions as they make a run for school history. WE ARE!  


Rowing the Boat Right Into Minnesota

The bye week in a football schedule is one of boredom. A week without Penn State football isn’t a good week, but we survived and it’s back to a game week. When we left, Penn State had just removed a huge monkey off its back when the team defeated Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans by a score of 28-7. Penn State was able to get through a gauntlet of games against Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State with a 3-0 record. If I think back to the beginning of the season, I predicted that Penn State would lose at Iowa and Michigan State. But the script has been flipped and this Penn State team continues to amaze all of us.

The game in East Lansing was a wet and disgusting affair. Even with the wet conditions, I thought Sean Clifford had one of his best games under center. He was throwing the ball with conviction and made all the right reads, minus the one interception. He accounted for four touchdowns on the day and threw for 189 yards. Three of Clifford’s touchdowns went to the offensive MVP of the game, Pat Friermuth. Baby Gronk’s three touchdowns put him level with Mike Gesicki for the most touchdowns by a tight end in Penn State history. Considering he is only a sophomore, it’s not a stretch to say we might be witnessing the career of the best tight end in Penn State history. The “Human Joystick,” KJ Hamler, also did his thing in this game, accounting for a touchdown. The duo of Friermuth and Hamler continues to be the heartbeat of the Nittany Lion offense. Another note to point out, Noah Cain started this game at running back. James Franklin must be reading my articles and listening to my podcasts because it was great to finally see Penn State’s best back get the starting nod.

The defense played up as well as expected. There isn’t much more to say about this defense. They’re elite and continue to be elite. The story of this game, though, was the depth. Back-up members of the secondary, Marquise Wilson and Jaquon Brisker, both got interceptions in this one. The rotation kept the defense fresh and it was a nice change of pace to see Penn State’s second team still dominate in this one.

The win over the Spartans put the Nittany Lions at a very nice 8-0 record. Big Ten title hopes and College Football playoff hopes are still on the table, but we still have four games to go. To start this new gauntlet of games, Penn State plays an opponent that no one thought would be as good as they are. It’s time for a top-15 matchup showdown in Minneapolis. Let’s take a look at the mighty Golden Gophers from the University of Minnesota.

At First Glance …

P.J Fleck has the Golden Gophers rowing the boat at full speed, as Minnesota sits at a surprising 8-0 record. Eight wins and zero losses is a very impressive record, but looking at their schedule raises questions about the legitimacy of their undefeated record. Just by looking at it, their best opponent this season has been arguably Maryland, the team Penn State demolished earlier in the season. The Gophers’ season can be split into two phases.

The first four games were all coin flips. The Golden Gophers played an FCS team in South Dakota State, Fresno State, Georgia Southern, and Purdue. They beat South Dakota State by seven points, Fresno State by three points in double overtime, Georgia Southern by three points, and Purdue by seven points. So let me raise the question, how does a team beat four lowly opponents with the average margin of victory being less than a touchdown? The Gophers bet tails on four different coin flips and won each time. PJ Fleck’s team did not look good and did not look like it would make any significant noise in the Big Ten this year.

Following the first four games of the season, Minnesota flipped some sort of switch and became dominant. Their opponents were weak again, but unlike the first four games, they were nowhere close to coin flips. They played against Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers, and Maryland. The average margin of victory in those games was around 32 points. The Gophers have no doubt played a weak schedule, but you can only beat what’s in front of you and that’s what Minnesota has done.

A Deeper Look …

A big part of the resurgence from this Minnesota offense can be put on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan. The second-year quarterback saw time under center last year and has already trumped his previous numbers this season. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Is he a game-changer? I would say, not necessarily. He makes the plays he has to make, but this Minnesota team is run-heavy. He has only averaged about 22 passing attempts a game.  Unlike the quarterbacks who have torched Penn State with their feet this season, Morgan isn’t a mobile quarterback. He will be the game manager Minnesota needs against the Nittany Lions, but I highly doubt this game will be won because of him.

This Minnesota team will live and die by the run. Minnesota has a good feature back in Rodney Smith. The senior from Jonesboro, Georgia, has carried the ball 154 times this season, which is leading the team by far. Those carries have been productive, as he has rushed for seven touchdowns so far this season. The production comes on every run, as he is also averaging a healthy 5.8 yards per carry. He will be the back Penn State will see the most this Saturday. Behind Smith is Mohammed Ibrahim, who is also averaging a decent amount of yards per carry, 4.7, and has accounted for six touchdowns on the season. The receiving corps isn’t spectacular, but it can get the job done. The two players to look out for are senior wideout Tyler Johnson and sophomore wideout Rashod Batemen. The two of them have also accounted for seven and six touchdowns respectively.  

The Golden Gopher defense isn’t as good as the defenses Penn State has seen over the last three games, but the defense is still littered with talent. The Gophers have a strong linebacking core that boasts two veterans in Kamal Martin and Carter Coughlin. Martin is second on the team in tackles and Coughlin leads the teams in sacks. Expect to see Minnesota use these two a lot, especially in a lot of aggressive blitz packages. The star of this defensive unit comes from the secondary in the form of Antoine Winfield Jr. The former freshman All- American has dealt with injury problems the past two years but has come into his own under PJ Fleck. Not only does he lead the team in tackles with 46, but he also has five interceptions on the year from the safety position. He will be the most talented secondary player Penn State has seen and expect him to be all over KJ Hamler the whole game.

Connor’s Keys to the Game

Penn State – Get the Depth Going

The secret is out, Penn State’s offensive heartbeat consists of KJ Hamler, Pat Friermuth, and that’s it. Minnesota is coming off of a bye week as well, which gives them time to prepare for the offensive weapons they’re going to face. Penn State needs to spread the wealth. The running game is something I keep highlighting so I won’t go in-depth, but getting the Lawn Boyz going will take some weight off of Hamler and Friermuth. The main thing I want to see is for Clifford to find that third and fourth receiver option and get them involved. This can come from Jahan Dotson, Justin Shorter, Nick Bowers, Cam Sullivan Brown, or any other players on this offense. Minnesota will sell out to contain Hamler and Friermuth, so the opportunities to get second-tier guys involved will be there. Get them involved, spread the Minnesota defense thin, and the Nittany Lions will be able to put points up on the board and win this game. 

Minnesota – Diversify the Offense

Penn State is far and away the best team Minnesota has seen and will see all year. I believe that the team’s defense may be able to disrupt Penn State at times, but the Gophers will need to get the offense rocking and rolling. To do that, Minnesota cannot live and die by the run. Penn State’s defense is way too good and has bottled up talented running units all year. Tanner Morgan needs to make plays and try his best to play mistake-free football. Get the ball through the air going, then you can open up some running room for Smith to operate. If Minnesota can stretch one of the best defenses in the country thin, they may put up points in this one. But that is a big “if.”


I have doubted this Penn State team and they have proved me wrong at every single turn so far this season. This Penn State team isn’t perfect, but it sure is something special. Looking at the task of facing an undefeated, top-15 opponent on the road is usually a daunting task, but, I’m sorry, Gophers fans, I’m not convinced. Out of 130 FBS teams, Minnesota’s strength of schedule sits at 77th in the country, compared to Penn State, which sits at 7th. I do believe this Gopher team isn’t bad; it has been dominant during the last four games. I do not believe that PJ Fleck’s group is there quite yet. This win would be program-changing for Minnesota, but I don’t see it happening. Even with a loss, Minnesota stills controls its fate in the Big Ten West. This could also be a Big Ten Championship preview which is weird to say, but true. I like Minnesota and this season has been a great story, but here comes Goliath rolling into Minneapolis. Penn State could be primed for an ultimate post-bye week letdown, but I don’t see that happening. Sean Clifford seems to be improving every week, KJ Hamler will still be KJ Hamler, the defensive will be its usual self, and Penn State will be 1-0 this week.

Score Prediction – Penn State 42, Minnesota 21 

The College Football rankings come out in a couple of hours from the writing of this post and Penn State will probably be ranked No.5, possibly No. 4 in the country. James Franklin got up on the podium after the Ohio State loss last year and said, “We’re a great program, we’re not an elite program.” If you want to become an elite program, this four-game stretch will prove if this Penn State team is truly one of college football’s elites. So, as we do every Saturday, strap in. Kickoff from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is set for noon on Saturday, Nov. 9. The game will be broadcast on ABC. It’s crunch time for the Nittany Lions and it’s time to see if this team is elite. As our fearless leader James Franklin always says, “It begins with I love you and ends with I love you.” Let’s get it, WE ARE!