Talking points with Penn State beat writer Ben Jones

What are the keys to Penn State making a run at the playoff?

Game day Q&A: 'You've got to be confident in yourself'

Lovie Smith described you as an “athlete.” How does that make you feel?

Really good. A lot of times, kickers aren’t looked at as athletes or a part of the team. For him to say that, it definitely means a lot to me.

If you could play any other position, what would it be?

Wide receiver.

Asmussen | 'Welcome back' to a former Illini assistant coach

Coach, welcome back to town. It has been awhile since you visited Memorial Stadium. Quite a bit has changed since the last time you were here.

You might notice all the construction equipment next to the stadium. It is for the new Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Performance Center.

Streets near Memorial Stadium shutting down early Friday for Illini game

CHAMPAIGN — An unusual Friday night game for the Fighting Illini means that some streets around Memorial Stadium will be closed early in the day.

— Kirby Avenue between First and Fourth streets will be closed beginning at 9 a.m. It will remain closed through all of Saturday to accommodate high school games taking place at Memorial Stadium.

Asmussen | Franklin fails to embrace benefits of Friday night college games

The Penn State football team will show up at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.

The school is part of the Big Ten. The league said "go play in Champaign on Sept. 21."

It is not up for debate.

But Nittany Lions coach James Franklin isn't happy about it.

Illini's Phillips hits reset

CHAMPAIGN — Del'Shawn Phillips spent a year away from football after high school getting his academics in order to get back on the field. That year away was pivotal for the Highland Park, Mich., native. It cemented the idea he wanted more out of his life.

Broken hand, but no excuses from Illini CB

CHAMPAIGN — Tony Adams is fairly positive in his opinion. The pass he batted down during what turned out to be the go-ahead South Florida scoring drive in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game in Chicago? That would have turned into an interception if he could have wrapped two hands around the ball.

As it was, Adams got one hand and one club on it.

Asmussen | Suspended Illini due to return

Lovie Smith didn't say it Monday. But his team is about to get an infusion of talent.

Five suspended players — including three 2017 starters — are expected back for Penn State.

Maybe the most critical additions will be on the defensive side, where safety Bennett Williams and Nate Hobbs are on the way.

Status unclear for Bush Jr. against Penn State

CHAMPAIGN — Friday night's Big Ten opener against Penn State makes for a truncated practice schedule this week for Illinois, including spending Monday on the practice field. AJ Bush Jr. took some reps at quarterback during the first practice of the week, but the graduate transfer's status against the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions has yet to be determined.

Illini offense has room to grow

Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith discusses his still young offensive line and the growth process for his entire offense as the season progresses.