UNIVERSITY PARK — Since Penn State entered the Big Ten, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have treated the Nittany Lions like a speed bump.
Minnesota has won 13 of 16 duals, and tied Penn State in another, dating to the 1992-93 season.
Cael Sanderson is hoping his top-ranked squad will finally be able to turn that momentum in the all-time series on Sunday. No. 1 Penn State will travel to the Sports Pavillion to take on No. 3 Minnesota at 2 p.m.
The Gophers can clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a victory over the Nittany Lions, while Penn State can clinch it outright with a win.
I think this is probably our, with what we know now, our biggest challenge, Sanderson said. So its just a matter of going out there and weve got to win those close matches, and were going to need bonus points when we get a chance to score them.
Bonus points could be tough to come by for both teams, in what Sanderson is expecting to be a tight dual.
The two teams tied 18-18 in 2010 and Minnesota edged Penn State 23-14 in their last meeting in 2011.
And although both squads have excelled at running up major decisions, notching technical falls and fastening opponents to mats, the Nittany Lions and Gophers have been stingy about giving bonus points away. Minnesota starters are a combined 91-3 in matches that yield bonus points, while Penn State starters are a combined 120-3 in bonus-point matches.
Despite missing a month of the season due to a suspension, Ed Ruths 22 bonus-point wins are second only to Penn States David Taylors 23. Ruth will likely battle Minnesotas Kevin Steinhaus at 184 pounds.
The two have met just once before at last seasons Big Ten tournament where Steinhaus gave Ruth his toughest test of the season in a 5-3 Ruth win.
What is Ruth expecting in Minneapolis?
A good, hard match, Ruth said. The guys strong.
And the Gophers project strength up and down the lineup, where all but two of Minnesotas starters are ranked in the Top 10 at their weights by InterMat.
They always have a good team, Sanderson said. Theyre always solid all the way up and down the lineup, at least most of the time. Since Ive been at Penn State, its been a real solid team, a real good dual meet team.
Penn States Morgan McIntosh will get a shot at the No. 1 wrestler at 197 pounds, when he takes on Scott Schiller.
The Gophers will also likely send David Thorn (133), Chris Dardanes (141), Dylan Ness (157), Logan Storley (174) and Tony Nelson (285) to the mat. Theyll meet Jimmy Gulibon (133), Zain Retherford (141), Dylan Alton (157), Matt Brown (174) and Jon Gingrich (285).
Nico Megaludis is expected to be back in Penn States lineup after missing last weekends slate with a planned rest. Hell likely face freshman Sam Brancale at 125 pounds. Taylors likely opponent is unranked Minnesota senior Danny Zilverberg at 165.
Sanderson wouldnt reveal who will wrestle for the Nittany Lions at 149. Whoever it is, hes in for a test as Minnesota will likely send No. 3 Nick Dardanes to the mat. Sanderson will choose between Zack Beitz and Andrew Alton who will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Michigans No. 7 Eric Grajales last week.
Were trying to do the right thing and figure out which guy should be in the spot.
Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @bytravisjohnson.