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Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Illinois

Penn State football (3-5) will host Illinois (2-5) Saturday night at Beaver Stadium as part of the Big Ten’s “Champions Week.”

James Franklin’s squad comes into this game red hot after winning three games in a row after starting the season 0-5. The same can’t be said for the Fighting Illini, who’ve lost their last two games by wide margins to Iowa and Northwestern.

Our staff thinks the Nittany Lions will stay hot with their fourth straight win to put themselves in bowl contention.

Matt Rudisill (4-4): Penn State 34, Illinois 27

To cap off this season with a win would be just what this program needs to boost its confidence going into bowl season.

Although Illinois has done exactly what it was supposed to, beating the bad teams in the Big Ten, I do believe Penn State will have the upper hand on Saturday.

Samuel Brungo (4-4): Penn State 52, Illinois 17

Penn State is on a bit of a hot streak, and this week, it will put up numbers that we have been accustomed to over the past few years. Illinois is beaten down and without some key players, including star wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, who left the team this week to prepare for the NFL Draft.

We’ll see scores from all three phases, some fresh faces, and a great game to finish out the nine-game season. State by 35.

Connor Donohue (4-4): Penn State 49, Illinois 10

Illinois doesn’t have a head coach or its No. 1 receiver. Penn State is rolling. Easy win for the Nittany Lions.

Connor Krause (2-6): Penn State 34, Illinois 13

After coming off the team’s most explosive stretch of the season in the second half against Michigan State, the Nittany Lions will use their momentum to control the Fighting Illini from start to finish on Saturday. 

The surprise firing of head coach Lovie Smith on Sunday should impact the heart and effort displayed by the entire Illinois sideline. Penn State is 8-1 all-time against Illinois at Beaver Stadium and will bring the win total to nine in a modern recreation of “The Snow Bowl” against Michigan in 1995.

Gabe Angieri (4-4): Penn State 42, Illinois 17

Illinois’ defense is giving up an awful 451.1 yards per game, as well as a not-so-good 31.9 points per game. The Fighting Illini have the second-worst run defense in the conference, which means Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford should have field days. I think both running backs will surpass 100 yards on the ground Saturday. Sean Clifford just needs to play clean football, and I believe he will.

The Nittany Lions’ defense will give up three touchdowns but force three turnovers as well to keep this game far out of reach for Illinois. Penn State will win its fourth game in a row and put itself right in the mix for a bowl game.

Ryan Parsons (3-5): Penn State 41, Illinois 24

A head coach-less, top wide receiver-less Illinois team really isn’t going to get much done against this “red hot” Penn State team. The Nittany Lions, on a quest to win out after starting 0-5, have a lot to play for, while Illinois hasn’t won a game in nearly a month. The Fighting Illini have put up good fights against ranked opponents, but Penn State is playing like a much better football team. Despite the cold, I predict both teams will put up lots of points, but the Nittany Lions will come out on top.

Will Pegler (4-4): Penn State 38, Illinois 21

Illinois’ defense isn’t great, and I expect Penn State to expose it on Saturday. If Sean Clifford can stay accurate and efficient, he just needs to feed Parker Washington and Jahan Dotson, and there’s no reason this offense can’t put up some serious points. Along with that, Devyn Ford and Keyvone Lee will both score touchdowns in a bounce-back performance for the rushing attack.

To the Fighting Illini’s credit, they have a strong rushing attack. I think Brent Pry’s defense may struggle to stop that early but buckle down and make a few big stops thanks to Illinois’ lack of a passing game.

The offense will ball out, and the defense will do enough. Penn State will have a 4-5 record Saturday night and be set up for a potential bowl game.

Matt DiSanto (5-3): Penn State 31, Illinois 13

Illinois is now without its head coach and superstar receiver. If Penn State can’t beat this team, it can’t beat anyone!

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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