Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ill-prepared? NOT.

Penn State defeated Illinois in Champaign 35-17, but only led 7-3 at the midway point. It was not a thing of beauty, but such beauty is in the eyes of the winner. This game took on a whole new meaning after the fourth quarter collapse part Deux last weekend. The pressure of an undefeated season was gone, but in its place were new doubts about what this team could achieve. Would we be prepared?

I am not going to spend a lot of time recapping this game as I live-blogged it yesterday, and a lot of my thoughts were addressed on the go.

I am pleased to see that we were able to play better in the second half for the first time this season. Of course, we might credit that to Illinois for just being not a very good team right now, no offense. Putting up 500 yards on Illinois isn’t the same as putting up those kinds of numbers against Iowa or Ohio State, but it is better than struggling against a team that doesn’t have a very good defense.

The final score is a stark contrast to the score at halftime. As I was sitting there watching the game, I couldn’t help but think that Illinois was a blocked punt or stupid mistake away from taking that game. We prevailed, but not without some trepidation. More maddening were the late breakdowns on the defense and stupid penalties that gave Illinois their only two TDs in the game. Sukay was beaten on several plays, which included a big 49 yard pass to Benn. The TD pass by Juice was his FIRST touchdown throw of the season!

But I’m nitpicking here. (Better to pick a nit than pick my nose!) The defense did a good job overall, and only allowed Illinois 8 yards of offense in the third quarter! We did better in the turnover department, losing one fumble, but picking up an Illinois fumble and an INT. The kick coverage still seems to be a problem with no end in sight.

Penn State was able to win the time of possession battle by about 6 minutes, thanks in large part to an improved running game. Again, is our line improving, or is Illinois that bad. Time will tell.

It’s hard to believe, but two months ago, many fans and sportswriters were looking to this game as the one Penn State was most likely to lose. Of course, very few of those people thought we would lose to Iowa. Go figure. Zook is two years removed from a Rose Bowl trip, but he may be on the hot seat if things don’t turn around for the Illini.

In short: good win. Solid game. Still room for improvement.



Team Totals PSU ILL
Rushing 15 8
Passing 10 11
Penalty 0 1
Rushing Attempts 40 35
Average Per Rush 8.4 3.7
Rushing Touchdowns 5 1
Yards Gained Rushing 339 156
Yards Lost Rushing 1 26
Completions-Attempts-Int 17-25-0 20-37-1
Average Per Attempt 7.0 7.1
Average Per Completion 10.3 13.1
Passing Touchdowns 0 1
Total offense plays 65 72
Average Gain Per Play 7.9 5.5
Fumbles: Number-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties: Number-Yards 4-45 5-50
PUNTS-YARDS 4-198 6-230
Average Yards Per Punt 49.5 38.3
Net Yards Per Punt 43.5 38.3
Inside 20 2 1
50+ Yards 2 0
Touchbacks 1 0
Fair catch 0 3
KICKOFFS-YARDS 6-376 3-188
Average Yards Per Kickoff 62.7 62.7
Net Yards Per Kickoff 41.8 49.0
Touchbacks 0 1
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 1-0-0 1-4-0
Average Per Return 0.0 4.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 2-21-0 6-125-0
Average Per Return 10.5 20.8
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-70-0 0-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 0 0
Possession Time 33:56 26:04
1st Quarter 5:33 9:27
2nd Quarter 8:55 6:05
3rd Quarter 12:04 2:56
4th Quarter 7:24 7:36
Third-Down Conversions 8 of 12 7 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0 1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 4-4 3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards 3-23 0-0
PAT Kicks 5-5 2-2
Field Goals 0-0 1-1


Penn State won the coin toss and deferred.

The Lions are 14-3 all-time versus the Illini.

Joe Paterno has 387 wins. Bobby Bowden trails by 3 (and possibly more pending an appeal of 14 wins during the cheating scandal.)


Wisconsin eked a win over the Gophers 31-28 to go 5-0. The Hawkeyes managed to hold off Arkansas . . . .State 24-21. What a difference a week makes! But they are 5-0. The Buckeyes overpowered the hapless Hoosiers 33-14. Northwestern beat the Boilers 27-21. And the Spartans took THEM to overtime—and beat THEM , despite two late TDs by the Wolverines to send it to OT. The last score in regulation came with TWO SECONDS on the clock. Imagine that! But the referines couldn’t keep Forcier from throwing an INT on a deflection. Sparty only had to score and did so. The Spartans now have a two game streak going against THEM, for the first time since 1967.


1. For Sooner fans
2. For Houston—the Cinderella story ends against UTEP
3. For Cal—can’t even beat USC when they’re down
4. For Georgia—couldn’t hold off late surge by the Tigers
5. For Washington—Irish pull one out in OT


Penn State returns home for Eastern Illinois. It will be Champs Day, whatever that means. Eastern Illinois plays in the Ohio Valley League. They are 4-1 on the season:
Illinois State W 31-6
Indiana State W 31-0
Southeast Missouri State W 23-14
Eastern Kentucky L 36-31 (maybe they were looking ahead to PSU!)

Eastern Illinois is ranked 152nd in the nation by Sagarin.


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