Beyond the Upset: Minnesota over Penn State

By Geoff Magliocchetti
Penn State v Minnesota
Penn State v Minnesota / Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Aw jeez! Even the Gophers picked up a big win in the Land of A Thousand Lakes before Kirk Cousins.

Minnesota football won what was more than likely the biggest game in the history of TCF Bank Stadium, defeating the likewise undefeated Penn State Nitanny Lions 31-26. With the win, the Gophers, ranked No. 17 in the opening College Football Playoff poll, will undoubtedly move up and make a stronger postseason case after topping No. 4 Penn State.

But, of course, the impact of such a big victory goes far beyond Minneapolis. Who else was affected by a lot happening in the middle of nowhere?

Provided the Bears took care of business in Fort Worth-- it took them three extra periods, but they got it done against TCU-- this game was going to affect them considering their unbeaten status. Baylor entered this week in the 12th spot in the CFP standings, and, despite the dramatics, will probably move up especially with another unbeaten guaranteed to lose in Tuscaloosa today. Beating TCU in seven "quarters" won't catapult them to the precious top four, but certainly should help them keep pace.

With the Minnesota win, the Iowa-Wisconsin game in Madison essentially becomes an elimination game. The Hawkeyes and Badgers were probably smirking at Saturday's start, certain that Penn State would take care of business for them and reopen the path to Big Ten West division title. However, the Gophers win' gives both squads zero margin for error. Minnesota''s perfection obviously leaves them undefeated in conference play. At the start of late afternoon games, the Gophers maintain a 2.5-game advantage on Iowa and Wisconsin, who happen to be two of their three remaining opponents. From a Gopher standpoint, if they somehow pull off this path to perfection (which would also involve beating Ohio State in the conference title game), they will have more than earned the College Football Playoff berth.

The College Football Playoff rankings' 2019 debut brought predictable controversy with them. Many were surprised to see that the Nitanny Lions were ranked ahead of the defending champion Tigers. The Tigers' weak schedule should've ended the mystery before it began, but PSU's loss resets everything for them. Starting with tonight's prime time game in Raleigh against North Carolina State, the Tigers are firmly in control of their own CFP destiny. There was a chance, perhaps, a one-loss LSU or Alabama team would've remained ahead of them after this week. But the Penn State loss to the supposedly weak Gophers changes everything.