This is the second to last home game of the regular season for Penn State, and they have yet to lose a game at home in 2015. After attaining their sixth win of the season last weekend, the Lions are now bowl eligible, which makes the rest of this season that much more meaningful.
Illinois started the season strong at 4-1 after a single loss to North Carolina, but soon fell to powerhouse Iowa (20-29) and last week, to fierce Wisconsin (13-24). However, Illinois’ junior quarterback, Wes Lunt (Rochester, Ill.), is a force to be reckoned with as the Fighting Illini allow an average of only 1.14 sacks per game.
The Fighting Illini’s head coach, Bill Cubrit, was named as the interim head coach this past August. He previously worked with Illinois’ quarterbacks and has 34 years of coaching experience under his belt.
During his press conference this week, it was apparent that Penn State Head Coach James Franklin was still elated about last week’s win and is feeling confident about this Saturday’s competition.
“No. 1 in the nation in sacks. Second in the nation in sacks per game. Second in the nation tackles for loss… really pleased with that,” noted Franklin.
Speaking about this week, Franklin commented about regaining strength during daily practices.
“We’re a little banged up…we have got to be smart and get our legs back. We’ve got to be fresh and we’ve got to be physical,” said Franklin.
Despite 10 grueling consecutive games, the players noted that their faith in each other has never wavered.
“I think as a team we’re always going to have each other’s backs. If something happens with the offense, we’re going to have our offensive’s back. And same with defense, and special teams, offensively and defensively, we’re going to have each other’s backs,” affirmed sophomore corner back Grant Haley (Atlanta, Ga.).
Penn State and Illinois have met 22 times, with Penn State claiming a victory for 17 of those meetings. Illinois notched a 16-14 win over the Lions last year at Illinois during a particularly low point for Penn State during the 2014 season.
Now, back and proving themselves to be better than ever, the Nittany Lions are prepared to crush the Fighting Illini and cinch a sixth win at Beaver Stadium for 2015. This weekend’s game will be a purple- and grey-out in honor of alumna Kayla Nakonechni, who recently passed away from brain cancer. Grab your purple and grey and bring some noise to Beaver Stadium this Halloween Saturday to see your Nittany Lions dazzle us with another four quarters of hard work and skill.