GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. Nittany Lions DEFENSE

All three of Penn State's starting linebackers missed the Michigan game with injuries. Middle LB Brandon Bell got ejected for targeting. Another LB (Jan Johnson) suffered a season-ending injury. Gophers running backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith should flourish. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Both teams have good punters and kickers. Penn State also has a 258-pound kickoff specialist, Joey Julius, who has delivered two of the team's most vicious hits of the season. Advantage: Penn State

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Saquon Barkley scored five touchdowns against Pittsburgh. He overcame a knee injury against Temple and broke off a 55-yard TD run. Michigan stacked the box and held him to 59 yards rushing, but the sophomore added 77 yards receiving on five catches.

THE OPPONENT

Penn State's woes go deeper than the 39-point thrashing at Michigan. The Nittany Lions fell behind Pittsburgh by 21 points before fighting back to make that a three-point loss. Both of those were road games, though. Penn State looked better in home wins over Kent State and Temple.

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. Nittany Lions OFFENSE

Sophomore Trace McSorley is better suited for coach James Franklin's up-tempo, spread offense than Christian Hackenberg was. Besides Barkley, McSorley has two dangerous receivers, Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, and a Mackey Award candidate at tight end, Mike Gesicki. Advantage: Penn State

INTANGIBLES

Penn State is historically good at home, the Gophers have several key players making their first Big Ten road trip, and there's a 50 percent chance of rain. Advantage: Penn State

JOE'S PREDICTION

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PSU MINN

Penn State is vulnerable, but the Gophers have yet to show they have the offense or defensive consistency needed to win a road game like this.