The Illinois Fighting Illini will be up against the Nittany Lions of Penn State at 11 a.m. Saturday morning in University Park, Pennsylvania. The Illini come into the contest with 2 wins and 2 losses and the Nittany Lions come in with a record of 3 wins and 2 losses. Both teams have lost to very respectable teams; #2 Ohio State and Missouri for the Illini, #1 Alabama and #17 Iowa. Also, both teams have beaten teams that they are definitely the favorites against. The Illini probably have more respectable wins and have played well the majority of the time while Penn State have been absolutely blown out in both games they have lost and have beaten very inferior talent. The Illini on the other hand had a battle with the Ohio State Buckeyes last weekend and had the chance to actually win the game.
The key for the Fighting Illini, as it seems to be every game, is the running games of running back Mikel LeShoure and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini come into the game average just over 200 yards rushing per game while the Nittany Lions average about 130 yards per game. However, the key for Penn State is definitely their passing game. Quarterback for the Nittany Lions, Rob Bolden, has been having a pretty good year, averaging over 200 yards passing per game. The two quarterbacks are very different, Scheelhaase is a runner and Bolden is a strict passer. The game on Saturday should be a story of two different approaches, the passing game for Penn State and the running game for Illinois.
This is the first clearly winnable contest for the Illini in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are usually a powerhouse, but this year is not their year. The Illini have a legit chance to get a win in the Big Ten and move up in the standings. If the Illini play the way they did on defense against Ohio State, then Penn State may only be able to score a field goal like they did in two of their games this season. Hopefully the Illini’s offense can give their defense a break and put consecutive long drives together so the defense can be energized when it is their time. If all of these things happen, it gives a chance for Illinois Fighting Illini fans to cheer towards their TV screens.
About the Author
Written by Gregg Pluta
I am currently a sophomore in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.