MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Gophers might have their first four-game Big Ten football winning streak since 1973, but they still need work on their celebrations.
After Saturday’s 24-10 victory over Penn State, Minnesota’s players sprinted across the field to claim the Governor’s Victory Bell, and pretty soon, the wooden part of the traveling trophy came apart.
Forgive the Gophers (8-2, 4-2 in the Big Ten). They’re still getting used to this success. Not only had they not claimed the bell since 2004, they also hadn’t experienced the thrill of an eight-victory season since they went 10-3 under Glen Mason in 2003.
In fact, this is only the fourth eight-win for Minnesota in the past 46 years.
“I always said our biggest goal was to make sure we could get all the people in the state of Minnesota to feel good about the direction we’re going,” said Gophers coach Jerry Kill said, who danced with the players in the locker room after the game. “We’ve still got a lot of room to get better, and we’ve got a young team, but we’re moving forward.”
The Gophers took another step against Penn State (5-4, 2-3), building a 24-10 lead by halftime and then holding on tight through a scoreless second half. The victory was pretty much sealed when Penn State true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg fumbled at Minnesota’s 1-yard line with 6:40 remaining.
Philip Nelson rushed for one touchdown and passed for another, David Cobb rushed 27 times for 139 yards and the Gophers rode a big performance from their defense.
“Give Minnesota a lot of credit,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said. “They do a great job. They deserve to be 8-2.”
Minnesota used the same formula it did in victories over Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana, holding the ball for 35 minutes, 28 seconds compared to 24:32 for Penn State.