Illinois vs #7 Penn State NCAAF Game Preview

Illinois vs #7 Penn State | NCAAF Game Preview

Should No. 7 Penn State lose at home vs. unranked Illinois on Saturday? Absolutely not, but the Lions could be pushed a bit if they overlook the Illini and toward next week’s showdown vs. Ohio State. PSU is a heavy favorite on the NCAAF odds vs. Illinois.

How to Bet Illinois at Penn State NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Where: Beaver Stadium
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio: Tunein.com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Penn State -24 (total 46.5)

Series History

These schools finished the 2020 regular season against one another and Illinois lost 56-21 at Penn State. The Lions’ Jahan Dotson caught six passes, scored twice and racked up 239 all-purpose yards to help Penn State turn a 21-all first-quarter duel into a blowout. Sean Clifford tossed both touchdowns and added 285 yards on 16-for-22 passing. Penn State leads the all-time series 20-5 and has won the past three. Illinois’ last win over Penn State was in 2014, when David Reisner’s 36-yard field goal with eight seconds left secured a 16-14 victory.

Why Bet on Illinois?

The Illini (2-5) haven’t played since a 24-0 home loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 9. While Illinois held Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz to 100 passing yards on just 10 completions, the Badgers’ rushing attack totaled 391 yards.

Junior defensive back Kerby Joseph recorded two takeaways, with his third interception of the season in the second quarter, and his third fumble recovery of the year in the third quarter. Joseph’s three interceptions are the most in a single season by an Illini player since 2019 when Sydney Brown and Dele Harding each recorded three picks.  Joseph is the only player in the nation with 3+ interceptions and 3+ fumble recoveries. Joseph is one of only four Illini since 1971 to record 3+ interceptions and 3+ fumble recoveries in a single season.

Illinois has held opponents to 24 points or fewer in four straight games for the first time since October 2011 against Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, and Penn State. Last year’s Illini team allowed 24 points or fewer twice in eight games. Illinois is fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten in fumbles recovered (8). The Illini are ninth in the nation and second in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+1.14). They are 13th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in takeaways (13).

Illinois is 1-12 all-time against Penn State teams ranked in the AP top 25, including an 0-6 record against Penn State teams ranked in the top 10. The Illini’s lone win against a ranked Penn State team was a 27-20 victory vs. No. 21 Penn State 9/29/2007.

Illinois will play its first game against a top-10 opponent since beating No. 6 Wisconsin, 24-23, on Oct. 19, 2019 in one of the biggest upsets in Big Ten history.

Why Bet on Penn State?

Penn State (5-1) also was last in action on Oct. 9, losing 23-20 at No. 3 Iowa. The Nittany Lions got off to a quick start in the game, jumping out to a 17-3 lead in the first half, but the Iowa defense would hold Penn State to just three second half points as the Hawkeyes came from behind for the victory. QB Sean Clifford completed 15-of-25 passes for 145 yards and rushed for a TD before leaving the game late in the second quarter. He wouldn’t return.

It appears as if Clifford will play in this game as he was at practice this week but if not redshirt sophomore Ta’Quan Roberson and true freshman Christian Veilleux split first-team work in practice at some points this week. Roberson struggled mightily in place of Clifford vs. Iowa. He completed only 7-of-21 passes for 34 yards with two interceptions. In 11 possessions, he moved the Lions into field goal range once and to midfield just one other time.

It’s Homecoming at Penn State and the Nittany Lions own a 72-23-5 record in 100 games. The Lions have won 12 of the past 15 on Homecoming. This is the fourth time Penn State will square off against Illinois in a Homecoming game. The Nittany Lions are 2-1 with wins in 2000 (39-25) and 2006 (26-12).

Game Trends

  • Fighting Illini are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
  • Fighting Illini are 10-21 ATS in their last 31 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
  • Nittany Lions are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
  • Nittany Lions are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite.
  • Nittany Lions are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
  • Road team is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 meetings.

Expert Prediction

  • Penn State 37, Illinois 17
 

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