The Fighting Illini went 5-19 in their first two seasons under Lovie Smith, and the former NFL head coach was on just about every "coaches on the hot seat" list in pre-season. But they have some good young talent and the Nittany Lions would be wise not to take them lightly.
Senior quarterback A.J. Bush, who rushed for 139 yards and passed for 190 in the team's season opener, is expected to be back from a hamstring injury. Sophomore Mike Epstein owns back-to-back 100-yard rushing games coming in. Illinois' defense has six interceptions and has forced a turnover in 17 consecutive games.
The defense gives up yardage (480 per game, last in the Big Ten) but not points (21.0 per game, eighth in the conference). The Penn State offense, which has rolled up 159 points in three games and is fifth in FBS in scoring, will test them and should succeed provided it can keep the turnovers and penalties (eight last week) to a minimum, as well as the distraction of next week's Whiteout game against Ohio State.
The offense continues to operate smoothly, and the Nittany Lions take a 45-20 victory.