MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota's second consecutive victory over Penn State might be a sign of shifting powers in the Big Ten, but Golden Gophers coach Glen Mason isn't completely convinced.
"The program is still not turned around," Mason said after Saturday's win. "It doesn't turn around that fast. What we can hope for now is for us to be competitive, going into the fourth quarter with a chance to win."
Two touchdown catches by Ron Johnson, four short field goals by Dan Nystrom and a self-destructing Penn State offense helped the Gophers top the Nittany Lions 25-16 at the Metrodome.
Minnesota (4-2, 2-1), perennial fixtures in the conference's lower half until last year's 8-4 finish, beat traditional power Penn State for the first time ever at the Metrodome and is now in the thick of the Big Ten race.
The Nittany Lions (2-5, 1-2) reached five losses for only the 12th time in 114 years of competition.
Penn State, coming off a victory over then-No. 19 Purdue, reverted to its earlier-season offensive form. Entering the game ranked last in the conference and 100th in the nation, the Nittany Lions' offense was plagued by punts and penalties in the first half.
Fourth-quarter fumbles on consecutive possessions sealed Penn State's fate and kept Joe Paterno tied for second place on the major college coaching victory list with Pop Warner at 319. Bear Bryant is first with 323.
Paterno was upset with his team's lack of concentration and vowed to make some personnel changes during the Nittany Lions' off week.
"We're going to take a good look at some people," he said. "We're not so sure some of them belong in a Penn State uniform."
The famous bland, blue-and-white Penn State uniforms have gone 3-8 since last November, when Minnesota upset the unbeaten and second-ranked Nittany Lions in Happy Valley 24-23 on a game-ending field goal by Nystrom.
Nystrom, ironically, was the lone offensive highlight in the first half Saturday, thanks to a Penn State defense that stiffened near the end zone. Three Nystrom kicks gave Minnesota a 9-3 lead at the break.
"I am disappointed we had to settle for field goals," Mason said. "We have got to get better at getting the ball in the end zone. You let a team hang around long enough and something bad can happen to you."
But the Gophers put the game out of reach in the second half with a long drive and a trick play. Johnson -- who moved into a tie with Tutu Atwell for first on the school's all-time touchdown reception list with 17 -- had three catches on Minnesota's 80-yard scoring drive that opened the third quarter, including a 3-yard touchdown pass from Cole that made the score 15-3.
Later, Minnesota backup tailback Thomas Tapeh ran toward right end on third-and-4, stepped back and hit a streaking Johnson in stride for a 64-yard touchdown pass and 22-10 Gophers lead.
"I like trick plays, as long as they work," Mason said. "It's just one of a variety of things we carry."
Mason and his team were more pleased with the first touchdown.
"Even when Penn State was fighting back, we still had the composure of a mature offense," said center Ben Hamilton, who led another strong performance by the offensive line. Tellis Redmon's 150 yards on the ground was Minnesota's fourth 100-yard performance of the year.
"Our confidence was pretty good," Cole said. "We knew we had to have a big score on a big drive."
That's exactly what Penn State was missing. Rashard Casey, chased out of the pocket all afternoon by a strong Minnesota rush, completed 19 of his 36 passes for 189 yards and a late touchdown. But he was just 4-for-12 in the first half and hurt by a combination of overthrows and dropped balls.
Then, after cutting the Minnesota lead to 15-10 in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Eric McCoo, Penn State fumbled on the first plays of two straight possessions in the fourth quarter.
"We were lucky just to be in the game with all the mistakes we made," said Penn State wide receiver Kenny Watson. "We're just not concentrating."
Penn State 0 3 7 6 --16
Minnesota 6 3 6 10 --25
Min--FG Nystrom 23, 5:33.
Min--FG Nystrom 28, :03.
Min--FG Nystrom 24, 9:39.
PS--FG Primanti 41, 5:10.
Min--Johnson 3 pass from Cole (kick failed), 10:18.
PS--McCoo 3 run (Primanti kick), 4:37.
Min--Johnson 64 pass from Tapeh (Nystrom kick), 10:50.
Min--FG Nystrom 24, 5:23.
PS--Stewart 2 pass from Casey (pass failed), 3:16.
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yards 33-98 49-182
Passing 189 166
Comp-Att-Int 19-36-0 12-20-0
Return Yards 152 74
Punts-Avg. 8-34.5 6-41.2
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 8-49 9-90
Time of Possession 29:13 30:47
RUSHING--PS, Casey 10-44, McCoo 11-32, Easy 4-17, Johnson 4-4, Cerimele 4-1. Minn, Redmon 33-150, Tapeh 6-17, Patterson 1-10, Cole 9-5.
PASSING--PS, Casey 19-36-0-189. Min, Cole 11-19-0-102, Tapeh 1-1-0-64.
RECEIVING--PS, McCoo 8-85, Drummond 3-35, Stewart 3-11, Watson 2-37, Johnson 2-20, Perry 1-1. Minn, Johnson 5-114, Redmon 4-35, Jones 1-11, Mays 1-8, Utecht 1-(minus 2).
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