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No. 4 Penn State heads northwest to take on No. 17 Minnesota in a pivotal cross-divisional matchup. The Nittany Lions enter Saturday's 15thGovernor's Victory Bell game with an 8-0 record (5-0 Big Ten) and are coming off their second open weekend of the season. Penn State and Minnesota are two of seven undefeated teams remaining in FBS.

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Minnesota owns an 8-0 overall record (5-0 Big Ten) for the first time since 1941. The Golden Gophers are riding a 10-game winning streak that dates back to last season and is tied for the third-longest active winning streak in FBS. Head coach P.J. Fleck is in his third season with Minnesota and owns a 20-13 record during his time in Minneapolis. The two programs will square off for the first time in three years on Saturday at noon (ET) on ABC.

All week long we've heard about the "X-factors" this matchup presents. From the Nittany Lions stout rushing defense to standout wide receiver Rashod Bateman, there will be no shortage of talent on the field this Saturday. While all of those matchups will be featured to a national audience, this game will simply come down to execution and protecting the football.
"The best thing we can do is focus on the task at hand and be the best version of ourselves," head coach James Franklin said during his weekly press conference. "It's about preparation, leading to confidence and confidence leading to execution and the team that executes more on Saturday will win. It's that simple."
One obvious difference maker for Penn State this season has been sophomore wide receiver KJ Hamler. The Michigan native is tied for the Big Ten lead and ranks 13thnationally with eight receiving touchdowns this season. Hamler has averaged 77.5 receiving yards per game while hauling in 37 receptions for 620 yards. The Nittany Lions' top wide receiver will once again look to exploit the opposition's game plan come Saturday.

Minnesota is led offensively by quarterback Tanner Morgan who's averaging 15.6 yards per completion, a mark that leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in FBS. Morgan's top target in Rashod Bateman who has 31 receptions for 644 receiving yards and six touchdowns. On the ground, the Golden Gophers rely on redshirt senior Rodney Smith. The Georgia native is averaging 111.1 yards per game and has recorded seven touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, Minnesota leads the Big Ten and ranks ninth in FBS with 11 interceptions. Antoine Winfield Jr. is someone to watch for on Saturday as he leads the Golden Gophers and the Big Ten with five interceptions.
"I think [Winfield's] playing on a really high level, five interceptions, runs the alley, physical, just playing really good football right now," Franklin stated during his weekly press conference. "Their linebacker, [Kamal] Martin, is playing extremely well and then Carter [Coughlin] is a legacy there, playing really good at defensive end, does a lot of different things for them."

Penn State may have the advantages in talent and depth, and the Nittany Lions have certainly been more battle-tested against quality competition.

Minnesota’s success is not all smoke and mirrors. This team is getting better and more confident by the week. The Gophers won’t be intimidated by Penn State, but just how many points are they capable of scoring on this Penn State defense? In the end, it may not be enough. Penn State gets a great battle from Minnesota but escapes this one with a win.

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