UI-Penn State: Media mayhem
Three media members who will cover today’s game at Beaver Stadium weigh in:
Joey Galloway, ESPN analyst
Penn State is a better matchup for Illinois than Michigan State was. I think the penetration and different looks that Michigan State’s defense give you is tough for everyone to deal with, not just Illinois. I’m looking for a pretty good, even matchup. I think you’re going to get the struggles on defense Illinois has had when you have young guys. ... After last season when the offense was really bad, it’s going to take some time and some patience. One of the biggest problems in the sporting world right now is people want to win right now. It’s only Tim Beckman’s second year at Illinois. It’s going to take time, especially when you talk college football, recruiting and building a program. That’s not something that happens overnight. The offense has improved tremendously.
Steve Jones, Penn State radio play-by-play
Penn State and Illinois are coming off a weekend to forget. After (today) one of the two will feel like they are back on the right track. Penn State coach Bill O’Brien will not discuss the effect of the sanctions right now, but I will. This program is playing with one hand tied behind its back. The sanctions were meant to do damage, and you can see in the depth of this football team there is some damage done. That will dramatically change when Bill O’Brien gets to a level playing field with everyone else. Right now he has 61 scholarship players and he is redshirting eight of them, thus 53 are available. When you have 61 and the other guy has 85, that means you have an entire recruiting class that has vanished. Ask any coach how much fun they would have with 61 scholarships. Despite all of this, Penn State is 12-5 in its last 17 games, including a quadruple-overtime victory over Michigan. The program has shown tremendous resiliency, and there are certain things the NCAA did not count on with the sanctions ... they did not count on Bill O’Brien, the leadership of his players and a fan base that has formed a bond and partnership with this program influencing games and recruiting. ... This may not be a game for first place in the division but it is a game that makes the Big Ten fun: two teams fighting for November momentum in a great atmosphere.
Mark Dent, Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch writer
There are only so many ways to explain a loss and even fewer to explain a 49-point loss. But that’s what Penn State has tried to do this week as it prepares for Illinois, with none of the theories (miscommunication, a need to simplify etc.) sounding much better than what actually fits — the Nittany Lions weren’t good enough. This has been an odd season for Penn State. A sanction-free, Christian Hackenberg-led future will soon come, but the still-important present has been filled with two confounding losses around one of the school’s best victories in history. Into this up-and-down season comes the Illinois game. Unlike Tim Beckman, apparently, fans from both sides likely remember the chilly handshake between Beckman and Penn State coach Bill O’Brien last year. That distrust hasn’t subsided, and the Nittany Lions are pining for a victory of any kind after the Ohio State game. Against Illinois, Penn State will not only try to win but perhaps also solve its defensive problem, having allowed 40 or more points in all of its Big Ten games. A victory for Penn State against Illinois seems likely, but expect Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini’s spread offense to thrive in a game that will be closer than last year’s.