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The Day After: Illinois falls to Penn State 30-13



Illinois falls to Penn State 30-13
Sep 16, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Ashton Hollins (6) cannot make the catch against Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Karen King (4) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Illini offensive woes continued against Penn State on Saturday.

It’s the same old storySame old song and dance, my friendIt’s the same old story, same old storySame old song and dance

Same old Song and Dance by Aerosmith

“They are the 7th ranked team in the country for a reason.” Those were the opening words of head coach Bret Bielema after the Illini lost their Big Ten opener Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Illinois committed five turnovers (four interceptions and one fumble). It could not overcome sloppy offensive play again despite the defense playing well against one of the most talented offenses in the Big Ten.

Illinois struggled on the line of scrimmage again this weekend. The Illini could not get the running game going, running for 62 yards and 2.1 yards per rush attempt. Reggie Love III ran for 20 of those 62 yards on one carry. Penn State registered seven tackles for loss, including three sacks. Quarterback Luke Atlmyer played his worst game this young season, throwing for 163 yards and four interceptions. Head coach Bret Bielema pulled Altmyer in favor of Ball State transfer John Paddock in the second half.

Paddock, however, did not fare much better, throwing for 129 yards. He did not throw an interception.

The Illini defense did play admirably, limiting Penn State star quarterback Drew Allar to 208 passing yards and 6.3 yards per attempt. Allar did not throw a touchdown pass either.

Illinois had thin margins to begin with.

The margin for error was paper thin for the Illini coming into this game. Illinois needed to play better on both lines of scrimmage, establish the run, and play error-free football. However, Illinois played poorly on the offensive line, the run game was ineffective, and they committed five turnovers. As a result, they could not generate points against the Nittany Lions.

Bret Bielema and his staff can work things out next weekend against Florida Atlantic before traveling to Purdue in the annual “Cannon” game.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.