7. Penn State at Illinois
When: Saturday, September 16 at 12:00 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign
Radio: See Penn State Radio Network
Follow Along: Nittany Nation Twitter Feed
Betting Line: Penn State -14.5
Three Things to Watch…
Illinois’s defense is hemorrhaging yards. In two games against Toledo and Kansas, Illinois has given up nearly 1,000 yards, and more than 60 points. It’s been a brutal start for Bret Bielima’s defense, which was one of the best in the Big Ten a season ago. The Illini are last in points, total yards and rush yards. The rush defense, ranked third last season in the conference, is dead last this year allowing more than 5.2 yards-per-carry. While Penn State’s offense has lacked a lot of splash in two games, it’s been statistically the best in the Big Ten and could be in for a massive day in Champaign.
Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer is a sneaky good quarterback, and could be the best Penn State has faced through two games. (Yes, the bar isn’t exactly high) Altmyer has 408 yards, and three passing touchdowns through two games and is Illinois’ leading rusher with 139 yards, and two scores. Penn State had some issues with West Virginia’s mobile quarterback Garrett Greene in the opener. He rushed for 71 yards and a score against Penn State. James Franklin this week said that game experience was the best preparation for other mobile quarterbacks.
“A lot of times you don’t really get to feel the impact of a dual threat quarterback until it’s live because in practice, you’re blowing the whistle. As soon as a quarterback runs and anybody comes anywhere near him, you’re blowing the whistle,” he said.
You can’t talk Penn State and Illinois without talking about 2021‘s 9-overtime disaster for Penn State. On a rainy day in Happy Valley, Illinois outlasted Penn State 20-18 in what was arguably James Franklin’s worst loss as Penn State’s head coach. While Penn State didn’t get much into “revenge talk” ahead of this year’s meeting, it’s hard to imagine there aren’t a few guys anxious to lineup Saturday and put that loss to bed.