staff, September 29, 2012

Penn State gave up only eight passing yards during the first quarter and the Nittany Lions lead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Penn State struck first when Zach Zwinak turned a handoff into a one-yard touchdown, the final play of an eight-play, 26-yard drive. The Nittany Lions started in good field position when Penn State recovered a fumble.

[RELATED: Illinois debuts new uniform in Big Ten opener]

The Nittany Lions expanded their lead to 14-0 thanks to a seven-play, 60-yard drive that ended when Matt McGloin turned a quarterback sneak into a one-yard touchdown run.

Illinois has the ball on its own 39-yard line to begin the second quarter.


Read more from senior writer Tom Dienhart here:

Player on the spot: Illinois quarterback-whoever it is. Tim Beckman has said Nathan Scheelhaase (who started the opener and last week after returning from an ankle injury) is the starter. But will his ankle hold up after flaring up vs. La Tech? Reilly O?Toole (who started two games and has had his moments) again would assume command if Scheelhaase is out. The Fighting Illini need a big effort after a 52-24 debacle vs. Louisiana Tech in Champaign. This is about defending their turf vs. a hot Penn State team that has won two in a row following a 24-13 win over Temple.

Key matchup: Penn State run game vs. Illinois front seven. The Illini have some legit NFL prospects in end Michael Buchanan, tackle Akeem Spence and linebacker Jonathan Brown. They must contain a spotty Nittany Lion run game that will be bolstered by the return of Bill Belton and Derek Day. If Penn State can run, that will make it easier for hot quarterback Matt McGloin-who has been sacked just three times and paces the Big Ten in passing yards and passing touchdowns-to do his work. And that would be bad news for Illinois.

Key number: 19, yards per completion Illinois allowed last week vs. Louisiana Tech. The secondary must improve, and that starts with cornerback Terry Hawthorne. The big plays must stop if the Illini-who had six turnovers last week-hope to win vs. a good passing Penn State squad.

Key note: Over the summer, Illinois dispatched coaches to State College, Pa., to recruit Nittany Lions who were free to leave as part of NCAA violations amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Many presume there?s bad blood between the staffs because of it. Think the TV cameras will be focused on the postgame handshake between Bill O?Brien and Tim Beckman?

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