Lions will, and should, have extra incentive against Illinois
Penn State starts the big Ten season Saturday against Illinois. It’s a winnable game for PSU, as the Illini are 2-2, as is Penn State. But, while Penn State is coming off two straight wins, Illinois lost to Lousiana Tech, 52-24, last Saturday.
Dual threat QB Nathan Scheelhouse, who missed the prior two games due to an ankle injury, returned versus La. Tech, but was benched at the end of the first quarter, so who knows how much he’ll play.
The Illini defense obviously has problems, and Derek Day will be available as a runner for Penn State, and Bill Belton might be.
But, the biggest elephant in the room in Champagne this weekend will be what happened the day after the NCAA kneecapped Penn State this summer, by allowing players to transfer without penalty through next August.
You may recall a bevy of Illinois assistant coaches showed up in State College the next–immediately proving the hypocrisy of the NCAA’s “new culture” of college football. All Illinois got for its unseemly actions was one backup.
Well, not really. It also got the attention of team leaders Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich. They, and the rest of the players who stuck around, haven’t forgotten what Illinois tried to do.
Coach Bill O’Brien is taking the high road, saying all the motivation Penn State needs is that this is the Big Ten opener.
Don’t buy it. You know what Illinois tried to do burns in the guts of O’Brien and his players. And it should.
The Illini’s actions looked all the worse when Wisconsin and Northwestern said they would not recruit any Penn State players. If a Nittany Lion contacted them, they would listen, but would not kick a conference brother when he was down.
There will be some kickin’ going on in Illinois Saturday, applied to a certain part of the Illini anatomy by PSU cleats.