The Penn State Nittany Lions head home today to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. This game represents an excellent opportunity to bounce back from the historic 63-14 loss the Nittany Lions suffered at the hands of Ohio State in Columbus last Saturday Night. The Illini enter this matchup on a three-game losing streak and are coming off a 42-3 loss to Michigan State last week.
If you are planning on gathering in front of a TV for the game, the game is on ESPN at 12:00 pm EST.
If you can’t get to a TV, the game is streaming live on Watch ESPN.
Below are some of my thoughts as we approach kickoff in this Big Ten Conference game.
• For the first time in a while this season, it seems that Penn State finally has a clear starting running back. Bill Belton will get the start today, as he’s been the most consistent runner over the past few weeks. Last week in Columbus, Belton was one of the few bright spots, rushing for 98 yards on 22 carries. The Illini have not been able to stop anyone on the ground this year, giving up an average of 219.3 yards a game. Look for Belton to lead the way out of the backfield and put up a few scores, en route to a big day.
• Much of the talk after the loss at Ohio State was about the Penn State defense. The unit gave up an unbelievable 63 points and 686 total yards. Defensive coordinator John Butler received much of the scrutiny from the media this week, but he was defended by head coach Bill O’Brien. I’ll be shocked if the defense doesn’t play well in this one. Illinois has been ineffective on offense that last few weeks, something the Nittany Lions need to take advantage of. I’m not expecting a shutout, but I don’t see the Illini putting up more than 14 points in this one.
• Allen Robinson. Need I say anymore? The junior wide receiver has been near impossible to stop this season. He’s again the best receiver in the Big Ten Conference and one of the best in the entire nation. So far, he’s caught 55 passes for 878 yards and six touchdowns. Despite getting blown out last week against the Buckeyes, he still put up huge numbers, catching 12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. He should certainly be in line for another big game today, as Illinoi has struggled stopping anyone on offense recently.
It’s a beautiful day in Happy Valley and the home crowd should head out happy when this one’s over.
Be sure to check www.victorybellrings.com for updates from the press box during the game.
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