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As the Minnesota Golden Gophers welcomed the Penn State Nittany Lions to TCF Bank Stadium on November 9, 2013 for a Big Ten divisional rivalry game, the winner of which would keep the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy until the teams meet again. The Gophers had not won the trophy since 2004. The Gophers found themselves with a 3-2 record in the Big Ten, 7-2 overall this season, the team was on the precipice of winning their fourth consecutive Big Ten conference game in a season for the first time since 1974.
Just a month ago the media in the Twin Cities had written off the 2013 the Minnesota Gophers football season off as lost. Despite the Gophers going 4-0 in their non-conference schedule the team had lost their first two Big Ten games. Not only did they lose the games the Gophers were severely outplayed. Additionally Gophers head coach Jerry Kill missed the entire Michigan game and had, at the time taken an open-ended leave of absence to focus on his medical situation. The Gophers, since the first weekend in October the Gophers have swept the competition. Their coach is back, albeit in a different role for now, and doing better. The Gophers defeated Northwestern in Illinois then Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium – for the first time in several decades. They traveled to Indiana and held the Hoosier offense to under 40 points while putting 42 points on the board themselves. The Gophers built a 10-0 lead early. Penn State scored a touchdown in each half but the Gophers added 14 points in the second half to win 24-10. Most impressive for the Gophers was the aggressive play calling and subsequent execution on the field for fourth down plays. The Gophers converted all three of their fourth down attempts in the game and have converted 79% of their 14 fourth down attempts this season. As sharp as the offense was on 4th down plays, the defense held the Nittany Lions to 1-9 on 3rd down plays while forcing two turnovers. David Cobb ran for 139 yards, for the fourth time in a row this year and increased his total rushing yards to 942 on the season. Cobb also scored his seventh touchdown of the season. Quarterback Philip Nelson completed 15 of 24 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Nelson also ran for 40 yards and a touchdown for 208 yards.
The Gophers, with the win, have won eight games in a season for only the fourth time in 45 years, and for the first time in a decade, since 2003. The Gophers will have a bye week next week before hosting the Wisconsin Badgers on November 23. Stay tuned to The Minnesota Sports Report for news and photos from that game and for updates on Minnesota sports.
Story by Matt Blewett Photos by Rick Corwine and Matt Blewett