Penn State needs a win Saturday worse than its needed one all season.
Here are three keys to Penn State abiding said disaster.
PENN STATE KEY NO. 1: CONTAIN MOHAMED IBRAHIM
It’s an obvious key but an important one.
Minnesota’s Ibrahim is one of the best tailbacks in college football, and he’ll likely have to play a big part if Minnesota is to ruin Penn State’s big night.
Ibrahim comes into this game averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He’s gained 694 yards through five games and scored nine touchdowns, which is behind only Corum (13) in the Big Ten.
If Penn State didn’t get embarrassed by Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards and Michigan last Saturday, not letting Ibrahim do the same would still be a priority.
But because of the “Massacre at Michigan,” the need to contain Ibrahim is more obvious.
KEY No. 2: TURN THE GOPHERS OVER
Minnesota threw three interceptions in each of its two losses, and Penn State’s secondary is its defense’s strength.
Minnesota’s sixth-year quarterback, Tanner Morgan, is dealing with an injury. If he can’t play, the Gophers probably won’t pass as much unless they’re playing from behind.
But Minnesota won’t be able to run forever, especially if Penn State does a good job on Ibrahim. The Gophers will have to pass, and when they do, Penn State’s secondary will have chances to make something big happen.
KEY NO 3: WIN THE MENTAL GAME
A loss like the one Penn State just had could lead to a downward spiral, and nobody knows this better than James Franklin.
Penn State has lost consecutive games in each of the past five seasons. That’s something that plenty are bringing up, and as much as athletes work to block out noise, it can be easier said than done.
The bottom line is: Penn State needs to have put the Michigan loss behind them by Saturday.