24ºF

Penn State football vs. Illinois: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Nittany Lions battle Fighting Illini

Trace McSorley #9 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after rushing for a 12 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers on September 1, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Trace McSorley #9 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after rushing for a 12 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers on September 1, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill – Penn State will try to build off back-to-back runaway wins when it travels to Illinois for a rare Friday night Big Ten opener. Senior quarterback Trace McSorley accounted for five touchdowns - three on the ground - as the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions rolled to a 63-10 win over Kent State on Saturday.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Penn State -28.5

 

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, 'script', 'scrbbl-js'));

They've outscored their last two opponents by a 114-16 margin after struggling to win the opener against Appalachian State, and must avoid looking too far ahead with a much-anticipated primetime matchup with No. 4 Ohio State the following weekend. The Illini also defeated Kent State but they needed a second-half comeback to survive 31-24, and Lovie Smith's team lost a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in a 25-19 loss to South Florida on Saturday. "You don't like the way we as a team finished," Smith told reporters said at his Monday press conference. "We all had an opportunity to do something. It doesn't ever really come down to one play. 2-1, we lead at the first quarter (of the season). Now, it's about Big Ten play." Penn State and Illinois have not met since the 2015, when the Nittany Lions coasted to a 39-0 win at home.

ABOUT PENN STATE (3-0)

McSorley is not disappointing in what many in Happy Valley thought could be a Heisman Trophy-worthy season, but he is doing much more with his legs, averaging a career-high 5.5 yards per carry with six TDs while completing just 51.7 percent of his passes. Four of his 11 completions and 101 of his 229 yards last Saturday went to senior DeAndre Thompkins, who was expected to be a trustworthy target but had failed to make a catch through the first two games. The Lions top all Big Ten teams with 13 sacks and defensive end Shareef Miller leads the way with three - two against Kent State. 

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-1)

True freshman M.J. Rivers II took over at quarterback in the second quarter of the second game after starter AJ Bush Jr. was hurt, and the former has completed 64.4 percent of his passes with a pair of TDs and no interceptions. Wideouts Ricky Smalling and Sam Mays have been the top targets, combining for 16 catches and 212 yards, but the Illini are relying heavily on a rushing attack that enters the weekend ranked 20th among FBS teams with 243 yards per game. Sophomore Mike Epstein has consecutive 100-yard efforts and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Nittany Lions' last regular-season game on a Friday came in 1982, when it defeated fifth-ranked Pittsburgh on the day after Thanksgiving en route to a national title.

2. McSorley needs 28 yards to become the second passer in program history with 8,000 (Christian Hackenberg 8,457).

3. Illinois kicked a field goal in the closing seconds to defeat Penn State 16-14 in the last matchup at Champaign in 2014.

PREDICTION: Penn State 38, Illinois 16

More college football scores