They say it's not a rivalry until the other guy wins, but that's not necessarily the case with Minnesota.
Oh, the Gophers have won against Penn State. They've won all right. They came into Beaver Stadium in 1999 and dealt the Lions' 9-0 second-ranked team maybe the most stunning regular-season loss - certainly one of them - of Joe Paterno's career.
And Minnesota won three more times in the series (2000, '03 and '04) since.
Even the games the Lions have won against the Gophers, such as the one-point escape in 1997 and a one-point overtime win in 2006, helped by a controversial call, did not come easily.
But the Governor's Victory Bell aside, which is presented to the winner, the series still hasn't become a rivalry.
That can be attributed in part to geography, in part to Penn State's relative short (16 year) history in the Big Ten, in part because they don't play each other every year, and in part because the Nittany Lions don't have a true rival on their schedule.
They have big games, yes, but no true rivals.
Which may explain why Minnesota has not been an automatic out for Penn State, evidenced by a 4-4 record in the last eight meetings.
The very first Big Ten game Penn State played was against Minnesota in 1993, and Bobby Engram's four touchdowns separated the Lions in a 38-20 victory.
In 1994, the best offensive team in Penn State history, went to the Metrodome to open the season and won, 56-3.
(That was the game WTAJ had the broadcast rights and play-by-play man Paul Alexander reacted to a missed touchdown because of a technical snafu by saying "This is ridiculous," a comical moment ESPN picked up).
It was, indeed, and who would have thought the Gophers would grow into such a zit on Penn State's previously smooth complexion?
Joe Paterno cites the Big Ten's improved balance.
"I think when we got in the league, there were two or three teams [Michigan, Ohio State] that seemed to be, they're the ones you've got to handle," he said. "Now it looks like there's more, like Minnesota. Purdue had their ups. Illinois was in the Rose Bowl a couple years ago. Iowa, Kirk [Ferentz] has done a great job. I think there is a little bit more balance in the league. I think it's tougher than it was."
Minnesota has helped prove that.
Whether the Gophers can do so this year is highly doubtful. The oddsmakers installed PSU as a 15-point favorite, and the line has since climbed to 17.
But most who have watched the Lions fail to put a complete game together offensively against anybody not named Eastern Illinois are skeptical - especially given Minnesota's passing combination of Adam Weber to Eric Decker should present a reasonable test for the Lions' secondary.
After barely winning at Syracuse, the Gophers have beaten Northwestern and Purdue and nearly decked Wisconsin.
This should be a good opportunity to examine how balanced the Big Ten really is and whether Penn State can go into the meat of its schedule will some momentum.
Or whether Minnesota will remain the Lions' nuisance.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He will respond to brief comments weekly.