Penn State vs. Illinois Prediction Roundtable


With back-to-back wins, the Penn State Nittany Lions will look to keep it rolling this week in Champaign. The Fighting Illini have lost two straight and will want to right the ship this week. Penn State has plenty of motivation for this game, especially considering the bad blood between the current seniors and Illinois head coach Beckman.

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Penn State has not played well on offense lately, but the defense has been outstanding. For as bad as the offense has been, the run game has started to come alive the past two weeks. That sets the stage for what looks like a Penn State victory on paper. The Illni have really struggled on offense lately and have one of the worst defenses in the nation.

Although the Nittany Lions are favored in this one, we all know that anything can happen on the field.  Check out our VBR staff predictions for this Big Ten matchup.

Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr.
With two games remaining, the Nittany Lions have a chance to turn around the season and finish with a successful record. The beauty of this week’s game is that Penn State has a chance to not only beat Illinois, but also head coach Tim Beckman. I don’t need to explain why all Penn State fans love to see him lose.

As for the game, I’ve been saying it for a while now, but this is the week the offense really gets going. Everything seems set up for that to happen. The running game has finally found some success and the offensive line seems to be coming together. Those two factors should assure that Christian Hackenberg breaks out of his slump. I’m expecting the sophomore to turn things around and look like the stud quarterback he was the first few games of this season.

Throw in an awesome defense, and Penn State should win handedly, even on the road. Give me the Nittany Lions 27-10.

Staff Writer Eric Sion
This is definitely a trap game for Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won two in a row and emotions could be running high now that bowl eligibility is secured. Illinois has struggled in Big Ten play the last few seasons under Tim Beckman, but the Fighting Illini certainly have some guys who can play. Quarterback Wes Lunt is one of the conference’s best passers, running back Josh Ferguson can both run the ball and catch it out of the backfield and cornerback V’Angelo Bentley is a great player who is also a dangerous return man. Illinois came very close to springing the upset last year in Happy Valley and as unlikely as it seems with Penn State’s defense and emerging running game, I think Illinois can win this game.

Christian Hackenberg and the offense will doom Penn State in this one and I think Illinois upsets Penn State by a score of 17-16.

Staff Writer Ryan Lance
Penn State will travel to Illinois this weekend to take on the 4-6 Fighting Illini. After coming off a nice win over Temple, Penn State will look to replicate the success it had running the ball against the Owls. Last week, Penn State rushed for 273 yards as Akeel Lynch rushed for 130 yards and Bill Belton added another 92.

The Penn State defense continues to be the bright spot as they again shutdown the Owls by holding them to 61 yards rushing and forcing five turnovers. Illinois is coming off a 30-14 loss to Iowa and is a team who have lost five of their last six contests. As we know, the Penn State defense is one of the tops in the country, however, the opposite can be said for an Illini team that currently ranks 117th in the country in total defense and 124th in the country in rushing defense.

I think this game has the potential to be just like last weekends game. Illinois starting quarterback, Wes Lunt, returned to the lineup last week after missing four games with a broken leg. He’s a big time passer who has thrown for over 1,700 yards on the season and the Penn State defense will have to continue to defend well against the pass to keep the Illini from keeping it close.

I expect the offense to continue to gel especially with Donovan Smith back from injury and Miles Diffenbach making his second start of the season. If the Nittany Lions can build upon the success it had last week running the ball, it should open up the playbook and allow the offense to do some different things. I think the Nittany Lions defense will continue to be stout and the offense will find some success. I’ll take the Nittany Lions 27-14.

Staff Writer Corey Hunter
Penn State looks for their third consecutive win as they travel to Champaign, Illinois to battle the Fighting Beckmans (ok…fighting Illini).

The Nittany Lions are coming off one of their more impressive wins of the season dominating on both sides of the ball. Penn State also found a rushing game going off for a season high 254 yards and 2 scores.

The Illini are coming off a lopsided 30-14 defeat at the hands of Iowa. The Fighting Illini have lost five of their last six games.

While both teams rank at the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing offense, both Illinois and Penn State rank near the top of the conference in passing offense. The Nittany Lions will need to aware of Illinois’ prolific passer Wes Lunt, the OklahomaState transfer. He’s averaging 278 yards passing per game and has thrown 14 TDs compared to only 3 interceptions.

While Penn State’s offense has sputtered, it’s defense has been superb. They will have their hands full with Lunt, but look for the Nittany Lions to come away with a close, hard-fought victory. Penn State-24, Illinois-17