Penn State was able to deliver flash and substance for its White Out crowd Saturday night.

The Lions proved that visiting Minnesota is no Michigan, no even close, especially with a redshirt freshman starting at quarterback in place of injured 6th-year starter Tanner Morgan.

After a slow start, the No. 16 Nittany Lions (6-1, 3-1 B1G East) dominated and beat down the Golden Gophers (4-3, 1-3 B1G West), winning 45-17 to set up a Big Ten East showdown next weekend against No. 2 Ohio State.

A week after being humiliated in the trenches in a 41-17 loss to the Wolverines, Penn State bucked up on both sides of the ball and improved to 8-6 all-time in full-stadium White Outs.

With Athan Kaliakmanus making his first start at quarterback since his junior year in high school in 2019, Minnesota played conservatively, giving the ball to power back Mohamed Ibrahim on 10 of its first 12 plays.

With Penn State crowding the line of scrimmage, Minnesota could not gash the Lions like Michigan did in running for 418 yards a week ago in Michigan Stadium. Ibrahim finished the first half with 68 yards on 18 carries, 30 of those yards coming on a late first-half drive he capped with a 3-yard touchdown.

Ibrahim did eventually reach 100 rushing yards for a 15th straight game, but needed 27 carries to get there. He finished with 101 yards on 29 carries, 3.5 per carry.

With Joey Porter glued to receivers and the Lions loading the box and keying on Ibrahim, Kaliakmanus struggled mightily before sparking a 90-yard touchdown drive. He was 1-for-7 for 12 yards before hitting Le’Meke Brockington for 33 yards to move the Gophers into scoring position. The young QB ran 2 times for 27 yards on the drive, and Ibrahim capped it with his 43rd career touchdown, tying the school record.

But Penn State pretty much put the game away with a touchdown drive on its first possession of the second half. Parker Washington’s 35-yard TD reception put the Lions up 24-10, and Minnesota didn’t have enough firepower to play catch-up against Manny Diaz’s aggressive defense. Penn State tacked on 2 more touchdowns in the quarter and led 38-10 heading to the 4th quarter.

Slow start

If you didn’t have access to ESPN News, you missed the game’s first 3 series. You didn’t miss much; they were all 3-and-outs. But ABC, needing to pay some bills after Oklahoma State-Texas ran long, showed what seemed like at least 10 straight minutes of commercials.

Sean Clifford, starting at QB after exiting last week’s game with an injury, did his best to slow roll the opening, going 4-for-4 with a long completion of 6 yards during successive 3-and-outs.

Minnesota, with the 6-4, 210-pound Kaliakmanus starting in place of Morgan, went even more conservative, giving the ball to 6th-year senior Ibrahim repeatedly. Knowing what was coming, Penn State held the nation’s 4th-leading rusher to 25 yards on his first 10 carries.

With the White Out crowd roaring, the Minnesota offense committed 5 false start penalties in the first half.

Good Clifford, bad Clifford

Clifford heaved up a hope-for-the-best deep ball on Penn State’s 3rd drive, which was picked off by Justin Walley and returned 37 yards to set up a field goal. Minnesota led 3-0 after 1 quarter.

The 6th-year quarterback finally hit his own guys for some longer connections, hitting tight end Theo Johnson for 25 and 18 yards during an early second-quarter field goal drive. The next drive, he hit Singleton on a nicely set-up screen that went for 22 yards then found wide-open tight end Tyler Warren for 38 and a touchdown. Later, he found Johnson for an 18-yard touchdown to cap an 86-year drive. The Lions caught a break, as the officiating crew missed a blatant hold by the Lions.

Clifford finished 23-of-31 for 295 yards and 4 TDs, carrying the offense while the ground game struggled early. At halftime, Kaytron Allen had 36 yards on 7 carries, while Nick Singleton was held to 15 on 7.

What worked for Penn State

Mitchell Tinsley made a fabulous 1-handed catch as part of a 4-catch, 58-yard day. Parker Washington added 7 for 70 and a score.

The tight ends were way more involved than the previous week, especially Johnson, who racked up 5 catches for 75 yards. Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren each had catches, with Warren’s going for a 38-yard score.

Ji’Ayir Brown had his 3rd interception of the season in the third quarter.

The offensive line remained without Landon Tengwall, who was injured during the pregame last week at Michigan. Until the game was clearly decided, the Lions went left to right with Olu Fashanu, Hunter Nourzad, Juice Scruggs, Bryce Effner and Caedan Wallace. By late in the 3rd quarter, it was Penn State rather than Minnesota that was pounding away with its running game.

The freshman backs, Singleton and Allen, found more room in the second half. Allen had 77 yards by the end of the 3rd quarter, and Singleton was at 79 with 2 TDs after busting a 30-yard scoring run to put the Lions ahead 45-17.

Drew Allar subbed in for Clifford with 8 minutes left and immediately led a 3-play, 40-yard TD drive capped by Singleton’s 2nd touchdown. Allar finished 1-for-2 for 9 yards.

What didn’t work for Minnesota

Outside of its late 1st-half TD drive that pulled the Gophers within 17-10 at the break, Minnesota could not move the ball.

Kaliakmanus was 4-of-15 for 83 yards and an interception through 3 quarters, while Ibrahim netted just 9 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter.

The officiating crew didn’t help, missing the hold, passing on a potential pass interference on Brown’s interception and calling a questionable interference on the Gophers’ defense.

But mostly, the Gophers just got worn down. They were outgained by more than 130 yards.

Up next for Penn State

The Lions will be home again next Saturday to take on No. 2 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0), which hammered Iowa 54-10 in an early game.

Up next for Minnesota

The Gophers will host Rutgers (4-3, 1-3) on Saturday afternoon in their final B1G crossover game of the season. The Scarlet Knights beat Indiana 24-17.