It's Illinois week. You know the drill. Here are the staff's picks.
bscaff: This is a dangerous road trip for the Nittany Lions. Bill O'Brien will have to be our Snake Plissken, helping the team escape from meth-ravaged southern Illinois. Bill will have some help. The Illinois Attorney General has formed a "MethNet" to catch methamphetamine manufacturers and users (known as tweakers). The state government also has an online database of convicted meth manufacturers, which PSU's travel secretary should check out here. The State Governor has produced an online Fact Sheet to bring us up to speed on this disaster zone. And, the Illinois Meth Project is working to educate the citizens of southern Illinois about the hazards of ingesting a drug made with Drain-O that was cooked up by a high school dropout using a plastic soda bottle.
Prediction: Bill O'Brien wears an eye patch and has a really cool cobra tattoo on his stomach.
Penn State by 17
Tim: The mere fact that Tim Beckman sent eight of his assistants to Happy Valley right after the NCAA sanctions were announced spoke volumes as to what he thought of the level of talent he inherited (see: not good). After Illinois got pummeled in both their games against opponents with a pulse, it's even more clear why Beckman resorted to such desperate tactics. No, I don't see the Illini defense giving up 50+ points again this week, but I am confident that PSU's continually improving offense (now with karate-chop action!) will be able to rack up yardage on the ground with a fully healthy running back corps, and especially through the air with Mailman McGloin delivering packages aplenty. The Illini offense will get their points, given that they have actual playmakers in comparison to Temple and Navy, but it won't be enough to mitigate their defensive woes.
Penn State 35 - Illinois 21
Devon: If there's one game guys like Mike Mauti and Michael Zordich have circled on their calendar ever since the sanctions came down, it's this one. And I don't know about you guys, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to be on their bad sides. As much as Penn State fans might have taken Tim Beckman's underhanded poachery as a mark of supreme dickishness, that feeling's only magnified for the players on this team who were harassed by Beckman and his staff. But the last time this team was fueled by emotion, they lost to Ohio.
So it's a good thing they play a markedly worse Illini team, even if they have to travel to Champaign. Illinois hasn't defended the pass well--at all--in their two losses to Arizona State and Louisiana Tech, and Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson should have no trouble taking advantage. Out of nowhere, the Illini have a QB controversy on their hands, and given Penn State's liabilities in the secondary, they have a great opportunity to take advantage of Nathan Scheelhaase's struggles early in the season presents an opportunity. Unless Ted Roof reverts to his week 1 form, Penn State shouldn't have too much trouble.
Penn State 31 - Illinois 20
Keith: I am a big believer in the leveling power of the universe. Whether you call it Karma, God, Allah, Jesus, what have you, I do believe that what goes around does, indeed, come around. Which brings us to this weeks' battle against the Illinois Fighting Illini. As you may recall, as soon as Emperor Emmert began to impose his sanctions, Illinois coaches were landing at State College, stalking members of the football team outside their dorm rooms, classes, Wegman's and Pizza Hut. Much like the kid from Better Off Dead who pesters Lane Meyer for $2.00, Peckerhead...er, I mean Beckmen's squad went into full vulture mode, attempting to sell Penn State's players on a couple of years spent playing in the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Bowl.
This will be an emotional game, as Mike Mauti and the rest of the defense (ranked 16th in the nation) seeks to shut down the mediocre Illinois offense. Meanwhile, Matt McGloin and the offense should be able to take advantage of an Illini defense that yields 26 points per game. Overall, kicking should not be an issue in this game.
Penn State 27 - Illinois 10
Nick: It will all start when the Penn State players get off the bus in Champaign, Beckman seeing this a sign they're looking to transfer will call them non-stop throughout the night. At the stadium, any Penn State going out of bounds on Illinois sideline will be swarmed by every coach and trainer on Beckman's staff as they try to throw an Illini uniform on said player before they can get back on the field. O'Brien, not amused, will send a message. Remember the 2005 game Penn State was so dominating, the Nittany Lions handed off the entire second half? This time, no dice.
Penn State 60,000,000 - Illinois 0
Dan: I'm bringing in a guest to do my prediction this week:
You heard Clubber.
Penn State 28 - Illinois 3