Aug 31, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions fans look on prior to the game against the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium. Penn State defeated Syracuse 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State vs. Illinois Prediction Roundtable

While not a single writer picked a PSU upset a week ago, no one saw the 49 point beating the Buckeyes put on the Lions coming.  The competition eases up this week with Tim Beckman’s Fighting Illini making their first visit to Beaver Stadium under the 2nd year coach.  Here’s what the staff sees for this Saturday’s game.

Lead Editor Matt de Bear (@PSUMatt2005)

If you could dial up the perfect opponent to face after a 63-14 loss, at home, you might not do better than the Illinois Fighting Illini.  Tim Beckman’s crew is winless in 17 straight Big 10 games, 11 of which on his watch, and are coming off their own blowout loss, a 42-3 thrashing at the hands of Sparty.  After a hot start that saw the Illini win 3 of 4, they have dropped 3 straight, and a once productive offense has gone off the rails.  On the other side of the ball, the defense is allowing nearly 34 points per game, good for 104th nationally.  In fact, the Illinois D has only allowed fewer than 34 points twice this season, against Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati.

I expect the PSU offense, and defense, to get healthy in a big way this weekend.  Bill Belton will have a big day on the ground, and guys like DaQuan Jones, Deion Barnes, and Anthony Zettel take advantage of a line that isn’t Ohio State’s.  PSU wins handily, 38-20.

Co-Editor Barry Leonard Jr. (@barryleonardjr)

What’s the best remedy for a team coming off a historic 63-14 loss? Playing against a team that’s lost three straight and has given up at least 39 points in all three of those losses. Fortunately for Penn State, they get to host the Illinois Fighting Illini this week. Illinois is coming off a 42-3 loss at home to Michigan State. The Nittany Lions should be fired up for this one, as they will want to show that last week’s performance in Columbus was a fluke.
On offense, I expect a heavy dose of running back Bill Belton, who’s really emerged as a top back. I also expect wide receiver Allen Robinson to have a big day, helping his quarterback to have a bounce-back game. There was a lot of talk about the Penn State defense this week after giving up tons of points and yards. Look for that unit to be angry and want to take out frustration on the Illini offense.
In front of the home crowd, the Nittany Lions bounce back big in this one. Penn State wins 42-14.

Staff Writer Eric Sion (@ericbsion)

Playing Illinois is the perfect remedy for Penn State after last weekend’s game. Illinois has lost 17(!) straight Big Ten games and has been outscored 137-54 in their three conference games this season. After their performance against Ohio State, look for the Penn State defense to come out angry, aggressive and looking to force turnovers. The Fighting Illini can score, but their defense isn’t very good. Look for Allen Robinson to stay hot and for the Penn State running game to have a big day.

Score: Penn State 34 Illinois 20

Staff Writer Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23)

Look for Penn State to circle the wagons and get to basics this weekend against Illinois.  After being throttled at Ohio State last weekend, where Murphy’s Law was prevailing feeling, Penn State will be more vanilla than in previous games.  Illinois is extremely susceptible to the run having surrendered a near league worst 219 yards per game on the ground.  Don’t think that will be lost on Coach O’Brien, especially with Christian Hackenberg potentially still bothered by a shoulder injury.  The defense will also be out to prove something well.  I think the defense will surrender some points…but not many.  All-in-all, this is a bad week to be an Illini football player as the Nittany Lions put a cherry on top of Beckman-hate week by handling their business on the field by a score of 27-9.

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Tags: Illinois Fighting Illini Penn State Nittany Lions Prediction Roundtable

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