Penn State vs. Illinois final score: Nittany Lions dominate Illini, 35-7

The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini easily on Saturday, winning the game by a final score of 35-7. Illinois was sloppy all game, and Penn State repeatedly took advantage of their mistakes. Penn State improves to 3-2 with the win, while Illinois drops to 2-3.

Illinois would get off on the wrong foot almost as soon as the game got underway. After forcing the Nittany Lions to punt, they fumbled and gave the ball right back to Penn State deep in their own territory. They held the visitors to a field goal after that mistake, but a running into the kicker penalty wiped the field goal off the board and put Penn State inside the five yard line. They took advantage, as Zach Zwinak put PSU up by seven.

Illinois would continue to help their opponents with silly penalties when the Nittany Lions scored another two touchdowns to push the lead to 21-0. Earnest Thomas was ejected in the second quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit following the third touchdown, so Illinois had to go without him for the remainder of the game.

The second half would see Illinois get on the board with a touchdown in their first possession, but it was all Penn State from that point forward. The Nittany Lions immediately responded after the score and pushed the lead to 28-7, and they scored again very early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Box Score Hero: Michael Mauti had a pair of interceptions and 103 yards on the returns as he led a dominating Penn State defensive effort.

Rankings Ramifications: This game won't have any impact on the rankings.

But Did They Cover? Illinois was favored by a field goal, so they failed to cover the spread. The over/under was set at 41.5 points, so those taking the over can smile.

For More On This Game: For more on Illini football, visit Illinois blog Hail To The Orange. For more on Nittany Lions football, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.

Next Week's Schedule: The Nittany Lions will be at home to face Northwestern. That game will kick off at 12 p.m. ET on Oct 6. The Fighting Illini will also be in action Oct 6, heading north to face Wisconsin. That game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

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