Week 3 – Illinois vs Penn State
The Nittany Lions come to town in week three, and this is going to be the first non-night game for the Illini. Penn State will head to Champaign on Saturday, September 16 at 11:00 a.m. CT.
Penn State had a spectacular year in 2022, with its only two losses coming to top-five programs, Michigan and Ohio State. The main reason for the success was due to a great defense.
Most of the defensive talent returns for the Nittany Lions as well. Three out of the top four players in tackles, sacks, and interceptions are all back in Happy Valley. They are missing a huge piece in Ji’Ayir Brown, who is now in the NFL. He led the team in tackles and interceptions and was second in sacks as a safety.
The weakness for Penn State this season is likely to be the offense. While they did rank inside the top 50 in passing and rushing yards per game last season, and No. 15 in points per game, the Nittany Lions will not have its starting quarterback.
Sean Clifford has moved on and the starting job looks to be Drew Allar’s heading into the season. He threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns last season. Penn State is also missing its top two wide receivers and top tight end from the 2022 campaign.
I think the Nittany Lions will end up leaning on the running game this season. Both Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are back, and they combined for 1,928 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2022.
- Prediction – Illinois falls to Penn State, 17-13
Penn State’s defense is going to be a monster once again. This is what scares me the most. Illinois will hopefully have gelled by then, and Luke Altmyer is comfortable at quarterback.
Illinois’ best attribute is the front six, so it will be fun to watch those guys against Penn State’s rushing attack. At the end of the day, I think this could be a pretty low-scoring game. It will likely come down the wire, but this might be the first loss of the season for Illinois. It isn’t a great matchup.