MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota's Jordan Howden picked off Sean Clifford's pass in the end zone with 1:01 left, the third interception thrown by Penn State's quarterback, and the 13th-ranked Gophers held on for a 31-26 victory Saturday over the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions for their first win over a top-five team in 20 years.
Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct a dismantling of Penn State's staunch defense. Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained undefeated, but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.
The first sellout crowd for the Gophers at home in four years swarmed the field after the clock ran out, reveling in the biggest step forward yet under coach P.J. Fleck in his third season. The Gophers scrambled the College Football Playoff picture, too, after Penn State (8-1, 5-1, No. 4 CFP) emerged with a top-four spot in the first edition of the rankings.
Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. Tyler Johnson had seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, too, as Minnesota made enough early gains to hold up during the late rally by Penn State.
Clifford went 23 for 43 for 340 yards and one score.
Antoine Winfield Jr. had the first two picks in the first half, matching the FBS lead and setting the Minnesota record with seven on the season. Both were inside the 10.