Centre County, PA – Illinois outlasts #7 Penn State on the road 20-18 in the first ever 9 overtime contest in NCAA history. The Illini pounded out 357 yards on the ground which propelled Bret Bielema’s squad regularly throughout a soggy afternoon.
Additionally, Illini defense held the Nittany Lions offense to a minimum in Beaver Stadium. Entering the game, Penn State had previously averaged 396.7 yards on 21 total touchdowns. On the afternoon, James Franklin’s squad only mustered 18 points on 227 total yards of offense.
“We did not have our guys ready to play,” Franklin said after the game. “I think there was a difference between playing Iowa on the road and having that type of loss with the type of injuries we had going into our bye week. But at the end of the day, all that matters is we get the job done, and we did not today.”
To add to the misery for Penn State, quarterback Sean Clifford’s health remains a mystery as he clearly struggled to find any momentum leading the Nittany Lions. He also took a late hit in the first half against Illinois which was highlighted during post game interviews. Keep in mind Clifford was forced to leave the game at Iowa during the Lion’s 23-20 loss with an undisclosed injury. On Saturday, Clifford was held to 165 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s tough but leadership doesn’t come easy,” Jesse Luketa said. “You have to do the stuff, the uncommon things, that everyone else doesn’t want to do, the uncomfortable things. I try to put my personal emotions aside and think for the greater benefit of the team.”
Penn State has to look at themselves internally and get this team on track on both sides of the football. Even with Franklin taking the blame for not having his team ready, the leaders are going to be reason Penn State bounces back.
Penn State will travel next week to play Ohio State on Oct 30th at 7:30pm est. While Illinois will host Rutgers at high noon on Oct 30th.