Illinois Football: 4 observations from the Illini win over Penn State

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Illinois football

STATE COLLEGE, PA – OCTOBER 23: Joshua McCray #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini carries the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half at Beaver Stadium on October 23, 2021 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Illinois football went into Unhappy Valley and took down the Penn State Nittany Lions.

This was a huge game for the Illini. No one thought the Orange and Blue had a chance here, but they showed the world they aren’t a bad program. This team can win big games, and they proved that on Saturday.

With the big win, the Illini now move to 3-5 on the season. At this point, a bowl game isn’t too far out of reach. As long as we keep running the ball, things should fall into place.

Here are four observations from the Illinois football win over Penn State.

1. Illinois’ backfield is elite

Coming into the game against Penn State, everyone knew the Illini needed to run the ball to have any chance to win the game. Run the ball they did.

Chase Brown led the way for the Illini with 33 carries for 223 yards and a score. He was the main man for the Orange and Blue and has now gone for over 200 yards on the ground in two out of the past three contests.

Behind Brown was freshman, Josh McCray. The big man held his own on the ground with 24 carries for 142 yards. He was looked to late for big carries when Brown went down with an injury. This was McCray’s second 140+ rushing performance this season.

This two-headed running back monster is what helped Illinois win the game on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. This is a running team that went for 357 yards on 67 carries against a tough Penn State run defense.

Honestly, I haven’t seen an Illinois team be able to run the ball like this group. There have been great lead rushers in the past, but the duo of Brown and McCray are elite. Let’s keep riding them and maybe just maybe, we can make a bowl game this season.

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