Penn State kicks off their Big Ten schedule this Saturday by traveling to Illinois and taking on the Fighting Illini. Penn State currently enjoys two lopsided home wins to start their campaign, while Illinois has begun with one loss, coming against Kansas earlier this week on their travels.
Illinois suffered their first loss of the year on Friday at Kansas, 34-23. They trailed 28-7 at halftime before improving by outscoring Kansas 16-6 in the second half. Illinois’ defense, once one of the best in 2022, struggled again and now must prepare to face Penn State, who averaged over 50 points per game during its opening two games.
Illinois was gouged for over 500 yards defensively, including 262 on the ground. They did, however, force two turnovers, including Xavier Scott making his first-ever interception in the fourth quarter and Jer’Zhan Newton leading with two sacks for five tackles for loss overall, including these two sacks.
Penn State Nittany Lions will hit the road for their inaugural road game of 2023 this Saturday after their dominating 63-7 victory against Delaware at Beaver Stadium last Saturday to move their record to 2-0.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar continued his stellar play, going 22-for-36 for 204 yards and one touchdown before being removed one possession into the third quarter. Backup quarterback Beau Pribula threw and ran for two scores himself, while Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen combined to rush for 155 yards while scoring four times; overall, Penn State rushed 315 yards on this day. Wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith led Penn State with 74 receiving yards.
Penn State held Delaware to only 140 yards total offense and five first downs during their matchup. Linebacker Dominic DeLuca led Penn State’s efforts by picking off and returning his first career pass for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Allar will keep the Illinois defense honest with his ability to move the ball downfield, dispersing the ball and opening up Penn State’s ground game for what has been an outstanding start from Penn State so far. While Illinois may provide tough defense, they shouldn’t be enough of an obstacle. I anticipate Penn State getting up early here and forcing the Illini into trying to pass back into contention through passing plays, which will result in turnovers and lead to an easy road win for Penn State.
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