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Penn State Vs. Illinois: Illini dominated by Nittany Lions

The Fighting Illini were dominated by Penn State on Saturday, falling 35-7 to the Nittany Lions.

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Illinois falls to Penn State, 35-7

The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini easily on Saturday, winning the game by a final score of 35-7. Illinois was sloppy all game, and Penn State repeatedly took advantage of their mistakes. Penn State improves to 3-2 with the win, while Illinois drops to 2-3.

Illinois would get off on the wrong foot almost as soon as the game got underway. After forcing the Nittany Lions to punt, they fumbled and gave the ball right back to Penn State deep in their own territory. They held the visitors to a field goal after that mistake, but a running into the kicker penalty wiped the field goal off the board and put Penn State inside the five yard line. They took advantage, as Zach Zwinak put PSU up by seven.

Illinois would continue to help their opponents with silly penalties when the Nittany Lions scored another two touchdowns to push the lead to 21-0. Earnest Thomas was ejected in the second quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit following the third touchdown, so Illinois had to go without him for the remainder of the game.

The second half would see Illinois get on the board with a touchdown in their first possession, but it was all Penn State from that point forward. The Nittany Lions immediately responded after the score and pushed the lead to 28-7, and they scored again very early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Box Score Hero: Michael Mauti had a pair of interceptions and 103 yards on the returns as he led a dominating Penn State defensive effort.

Rankings Ramifications: This game won't have any impact on the rankings.

But Did They Cover? Illinois was favored by a field goal, so they failed to cover the spread. The over/under was set at 41.5 points, so those taking the over can smile.

For More On This Game: For more on Illini football, visit Illinois blog Hail To The Orange. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.

Next Week's Schedule: The Nittany Lions will be at home to face Northwestern. That game will kick off at 12 p.m. ET on Oct 6. The Fighting Illini will also be in action Oct 6, heading north to face Wisconsin. That game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

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Penn State continue to lead Illinois after the 3rd

After three quarters of play from Champaign, the Illinois Fighting Illini trail Penn State 28-7. They've been better since the start of the second half, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to come back to beat their Big Ten rivals.

Illinois was extremely sloppy in the first half, but on their last drive of the half they started to establish a little offensive rhythm. They continued to look better on offense on their first possession of the second half, driving 75 yards down the field to cut the deficit to 21-7. Josh Ferguson found Spencer Harris for the 22-yard touchdown strike.

Penn State got the lead back up to three scores when quarterback Matt McGloin ran the ball into the end zone from a yard out. It was McGloin's second rushing touchdown of the game, and his fourth of the year. Illinois moved the ball well on their next possession, but Michael Mauti's second interception of the game ensured that the lead remained 21 at the end of three quarters.

Penn State will begin the fourth quarter with the ball inside their opponent's red zone as they look to put the Illini away.


Penn State leads Illinois at the half

Illinois trail Penn State by 21 after the first half of play in Champaign, and it could be even worse. A blocked 19-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half kept the Illinois deficit at just three touchdowns instead of 24. The first half was highlighted by sloppy play and some very questionable play calling from the home team

The Illinois offense struggled to move the ball until the final possession of the half, and they've converted none of their seven opportunities on third down. They haven't been helping themselves with penalties either, extending a number of Penn State drives and committing a pair of personal fouls for helmet to helmet hits. The second of those penalties led to Earnest Thomas being ejected from the game after hitting Matt Lehman in the end zone. In total, Illinois have given the Nittany Lions 54 additional yards due to penalties.

Illinois kicked off to start the game, so they'll receive the ball to start the second half. They'll need to be much better if they want to make a game of this.

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