No. 7 Penn State looks to avoid slip-up against Illinois while Illini try to make a bold statement

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No. 7 Penn State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten), noon ET (FOX)

Line: Penn State by 14½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Penn State leads 20-6.


Penn State can’t afford a slipup against an Illinois team that needed a field goal in the closing seconds to beat Toledo 30-28 in its opener and lost 34-23 at Kansas last week. For the Illini, this is a chance to make a bold statement in a nationally televised game against one of the nation’s most talented teams.


Penn State has an explosive offense with a quarterback (Drew Allar) who has thrown with pinpoint accuracy, completing 43 of 55 passes in the Nittany Lions’ first two games. That’s a problem for a porous Illinois defense, which so far has not resembled the 2022 Illini defense. That crew last year led the nation in scoring defense (12.8 points per game) and ranked in the top 10 nationally in 15 other major defensive categories. This season, the Illinois defense is 14th in the Big Ten in scoring (31.0 points per game), 14th in total defense (477.5 yards per game), 12th in passing defense (253.5 per game) and 14th in rushing defense (224.0 yard per game).


Penn State: RB Nick Singleton. The 6-foot, 224-pound sophomore is speedy and strong, with four touchdowns this season. He ran for 1,061 yards last season as a freshman, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, and 12 touchdowns.

Illinois: QB Luke Altmyer. The transfer from Mississippi has quickly put his stamp on the Illinois offense. He leads the Big Ten in points responsible with 32, and has a team-leading 139 yards rushing. He’s just 164 yards away from cracking Illinois’ top 10 list for career rushing yards by a quarterback. Altmeyer’s 72-yard touchdown run last week against Kansas was the second-longest run ever by an Illinois quarterback and the longest in 91 years, since Gil Berry ran 75 yards for a TD in 1932.


The last time these teams met, in 2021, Illinois won 20-18 at Penn State in nine overtimes in the longest game in college football history. The game was tied 10-10 at the end of the fourth quarter. ... Penn State is opening its Big Ten season on the road for the eighth straight season and 13th time in 14 years. ... The Nittany Lions have at least six tackles for loss in each of their last 10 games and have scored at least 30 points in nine consecutive games, the longest streaks in the nation. ... Illinois WR Isaiah Williams has at least one catch in all 27 games he’s played since switching from quarterback before the start of the 2021 season. That’s the second-longest active streak in the Big Ten behind Penn State’s Dante Cephas, who has caught a pass in 29 straight games.


AP college football: and