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Penn State vs. Illinois predictions: Could Nittany Lions pull out win?

Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Penn State's non-conference season didn't exactly pan out as planned, but Illinois started their season just as shakily as the Nittany Lions.

The matchup squares off two of the four Big Ten teams to drop a pair of games before the start of conference play, but while Penn State dropped a pair of games by only 11 points, Illinois suffered a pair of blowouts at the hands of Arizona State and Louisiana Tech.

All things considered, Tim Beckman's squad might be one of the easier opponents for PSU in the Leaders division. The crew at Black Shoe Diaries agreed, as all four of the site's writers picked Penn State to win on the road.

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.

Emotion seems to be running high for the Nittany Lions, as several players have alluded to the decision of Illinois coaches to actively recruit Penn State players this offseason after NCAA sanctions allowed them to do so.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.