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#19 Penn State vs. Illinois Preview

Posted By Jeremy Hall On Oct 27 2011 @ 7:35 am In Penn State | 5 Comments

Penn State comes into this week’s game against the Illinois Fighting Illini all alone at the top of the Big Ten Leaders Division with a record of 7-1 (4-0 Big Ten). Joe Paterno earned his 408th win last week after the Nittany Lions defeated Northwestern 34-24 on the road in Evanston, IL. The Nittany Lions would love to help their legendary coach earn his 409th victory in front of their home town crowd and remain undefeated in Big Ten play. Penn State owns a 14-4 overall record against the Fighting Illini; however, the teams have split their last 4 meetings. Penn State hopes to erase the memory of last year’s shocking 33-13 loss at the hands of the Fighting Illini at Beaver Stadium. I think it will be a very tall order for the Fighting Illini to beat Penn State at home in back to back seasons given the fact that Penn State is 42-7 over their last 49 home games, 5 of the 7 losses to ranked opponents.

The Fighting Illini came out of the gate on fire this season winning their first six games but have faltered a little over the past two weeks dropping their last two decisions, (17-7 to Ohio State and 21-14 to Purdue) both in Big Ten play. Illinois had a great bounce back season last year going 7-6 (4-4 Big Ten) after a very disappointing 2009 campaign in which they were 3-9 (2-6 Big Ten). The Fighting Illini look to right the ship and get their season back on course this week as they take on a gritty Penn State team. Illinois is hoping to show the nation they have actually gotten over the hump by defeating the Nittany Lions and in turn put themselves back into contention for the Big Ten Leaders Division title.

Important Factors For Penn State Success:
- Get pressure on Scheelhaase (Illinois has surrendered 2.88 sacks/game this season)
- Have Gerald Hodges spy Scheelhaase (Scheelhaase is the Fighting Illini leading rusher)
- Don’t allow Illinois to extend drives on 3rd down (Illinois has converted a little over 50% of 3rd downs)
- Put themselves in good field position by taking advantage of Illinois’ week kick/punt coverage

Important Factors For Illinois Success:
- Capitalize on Red Zone scoring opportunities (Penn State has given up points on all but 1 drive in the Red Zone this season)
- Take care of the football (Illinois is a minus 2 in turnover margin so far this season)
- Stop Silas Redd and force Penn State to beat them through the air (Penn State ranks 84th in Passing Offense this season)

 

#19 Penn State Nittany Lions

Illinois Fighting Illini

 
Total Offense (yds/gm)

375.13 (76th)

289 (10th)

Total Defense
Rushing Yards/Game

168.88 (50th)

101.88 (19th)

Rushing Defense
Passing Yards/Game

206.25 (84th)

187.13 (21st)

Passing Defense
Sacks Allowed/Game

.88 (14th)

3.38 (8th)

Sacks/Game
Giveaways

13 (66th)

13 (42nd)

Takeaways
3rd Down Conversion %

39.32% (73rd)

32.17% (18th)

3rd Down Conv. % Defense
Red Zone Scoring %

76% (87th)

80% (44th)

Red Zone Defense
Kickoff Return Average

24.58 (20th)

23.67 (100th)

Kickoff Return Avg. Against
Punt Return Average

6.61 (79th)

6.83 (53rd)

Punt Return Avg. Against
Points Scored/Game

23.25 (89th)

18.13 (15th)

Points Allowed/Game
Penalties Committed

40 for 350 (47th)

37 for 310 (30th)

Penalties Committed
Total Defense

281.88 (8th)

417.13 (45th)

Total Offense (yds/gm)
Rushing Defense

101.88 (19th)

199.25 (23rd)

Rushing Yards/Game
Passing Defense

180 (14th)

217.88 (72nd)

Passing Yards/Game
Sacks/Game

2.63 (23rd)

2.88 (106th)

Sacks Allowed/Game
Takeaways

18 (13th)

15 (90th)

Giveaways
3rd Down Conv. % Defense

34.92 % (35th)

50.43% (13th)

3rd Down Conversion %
Red Zone Defense

95% (118th)

87% (35th)

Red Zone Scoring %
Kickoff Return Avg. Against

22.06 (73rd)

16.33 (118th)

Kickoff Return Average
Punt Return Avg. Against

8.17 (71st)

1.82 (116th)

Punt Return Average
Points Allowed/Game

13.13 (5th)

28.63 (64th)

Points Scored/Game

How I See It:

This game will not be for the faint of heart and will exemplify Big Ten football, an all out war in the trenches pitting hardnosed defenses against powerful rushing attacks.  So don’t turn away from the TV screen because you might get blindsided and end up picking yourself up off of the floor.  I believe this will be a defensive struggle and a battle of field position with very little scoring.  Both teams will need to capitalize on every precious scoring opportunity.  In fact, this game may possibly come down to whoever has the last possession.    

 Penn State 16 Illinois 13

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