Penn State vs Illinois prediction and game preview.
Penn State vs Illinois Broadcast
Date: Saturday, December 19
Game Time: 5:30 ET
Venue: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Penn State (3-5) vs Illinois (2-5) Game Preview
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Why Illinois Will Win
For all of the problems and issues, the Illinois offense has been able to move the ball a bit.
It didn’t look great over the last two weeks against Iowa and Northwestern, but those two have among the Big Ten’s best defenses. Even so, the Illini offense was still good on third downs against the Hawkeyes and on the year is connecting on 40% of its tries.
That comes from the ground game that’s not all that bad.
Again, playing against Iowa and Northwestern is a problem, but even against those two the rushing attack worked okay. Before that, the Illini ripped through Rutgers and Nebraska, and it averages close to five yards per carry on the year.
Illinois might not tear off 300 yards on the ground, but it should be able to do just enough to maintain some control against a Penn State team that’s not going to run away with this. But …
Why Penn State Will Win
Oh yeah, there’s that issue with the Illinois head coach – he’s not there anymore.
Lovie Smith was “relieved of his duties” after the 28-10 loss to Northwestern and the 2-5 season. Interim head coach Rod Smith moves over from the offensive coordinator side, but it’s hardly business as usual for the Illini.
Penn State is playing well. It helps to have played Michigan, Rutgers and Michigan State over the last few weeks, but still, it’s a good turnaround from the 0-5 start. The defense is doing a fantastic job against the run and allowed fewer than 300 yards of total offense in three of the last five games.
Offensively, Sean Clifford has been solid. He’s hitting well over 60% of his throws in the recent run, the running game is doing enough, and the team is playing with more confidence and consistency.
What’s Going To Happen
Illinois hasn’t been all that bad for a 2-5 team.
Here’s how crazy this is. Had Illinois played its original schedule with Illinois State, UConn, and Bowling Green, it’s almost certainly a five-win team, possibly six-win, and Lovie Smith is still the head coach.
He’s not, Illinois is struggling, and Penn State is about to finish off a nice turnaround with a four-game winning streak after the disastrous start. The Nittany Lion offense will be balanced enough to overcome a decent day from the Illini ground game.
Penn State vs Illinois Prediction, Line
Penn State 34, Illinois 17
Bet on Penn State vs Illinois with BetMGM
Penn State -15, o/u: 52
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Must See Rating: 2.5
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