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NSN Staff Picks Penn State-Minnesota

Penn State needs a win against Minnesota, coming off an embarrassing loss at Michigan.

Does our staff think coach James Franklin’s team will bounce back? Find out here:

Logan Carney: Penn State is not a top 10 team. That was plainly obvious for everyone with eyes after last week’s 41-17 blowout by Michigan. Even when Penn State led in the first half, it looked like the team had no business being on the same field as its’ opponent.

That being said, Minnesota – like the rest of the Big Ten outside of Michigan and Ohio State – is a good, not great team. Penn State is at home in the White Out game and although their record in the White Out is barely above .500 at 9-8, I think they win this one. They have to if they want to win 10 games this year, because Penn State have no shot next week against Ohio State.

Penn State 28, Minnesota 21

Brandon Walker: It was obvious that Penn State was not on the same stratosphere as Michigan last week. Typically, Penn State hasn’t bounced back from big losses under Franklin.

If this a normal home game in the daytime, I would be concerned. But it’s Homecoming and it’s the White Out game. Minnesota will try to deploy the same strategy that Michigan used last weekend, but Minnesota doesn’t have quite the personnel to dominate the line of scrimmage the way Michigan did.

Sean Clifford’s health is key Saturday. If he can be effective, then start him, but if he shows any signs of ineffectiveness, Franklin should pull him immediately and put in Drew Allar. Penn State still has everything in front of them as far as winning a Big Ten championship is concerned, and they are the slightly better team.

Also, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan’s status remains unclear. Penn State will win a one-score game before getting ready for Ohio State next weekend.

Penn State 27, Minnesota 23

Jarrod Prugar: Familiarity is a funny thing. Kirk Ciarrocca knows the personnel well and the Penn State staff knows his offense well. Minnesota played well for the most part early this season, but when their opponents became competent, the Gophers struggled, losing to Purdue and Illinois. The Nittany Lions have every goal still in front of them for at least another week and still will after this one.

Penn State 35, Minnesota 17

Mike Asti: It’s clear that Penn State remains a step behind Ohio State and Michigan. With that said, PSU should still take care of business against Minnesota. Even though Minnesota can be competitive and has been better than some people may think in recent years, they have struggled in conference play. A rocking atmosphere and some pressure to respond on a national stage should get the Nittany Lions up for this game after a let down performance.

Penn State 34, Minnesota 16

Alan Saunders: Penn State has a bad habit of sleepwalking through games against mid-tier Big Ten opposition and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. The Lions are more talented, but I don’t think they’ll make it easy.

Penn State 23, Minnesota 17

Joe Smeltzer: I should have went with my gut last week.

My gut told me, “Joe, Penn State is either going to win a thriller at Michigan or get demolished by Michigan.” Being the genius that I am, I didn’t pick either of those outcomes and instead predicted a close Michigan win. Of course, one of my gut instincts proved to be accurate, but I can’t take too much credit because that’s not what I predicted.

This week, I’m going to listen to my gut, which is telling me the same thing, but in reverse. My gut is saying, “Joe, Penn State is either going to come out firing, keep its foot on the gas and win by double-digits, or Minnesota will ruin Penn State’s White Out, Homecoming and season.”

Minnesota matches up well with Penn State, and although Minnesota isn’t as good as Michigan, the similarities should be concerning.

Like Michigan with Blake Corum, the Gophers have a stud running back in Mohamed Ibrahim. Like Michigan, Minnesota plays good defense and chews the clock. Like Michigan, Minnesota has a good offensive line that can block for Ibrahim.

Penn State has better players, but the matchup is favorable for Minnesota. The latter is what I’m going to base my prediction on. We’ll see if my gut is right.

Minnesota 23, Penn State 20

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