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Penn State crushes Illinois 35-7 In Big Ten Opener

Matt McGloin accounted for 3 TDs as the Nittany Lions trounced the Illini in the Big Ten opener

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Michael Mauti wins Big Ten defensive POW

Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after he recorded six tackles, two interceptions and forced a fumble in a 35-7 win over Illinois.

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Matt McGloin Leads PSU over Illinois 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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Penn St. leads Illinois 28-7 after three quarters

The Penn St. Nittany Lions lead the Illinois Fighting Illini, 28-7, after three quarters of play.

Illinois put points on the board with 10:22 left to play in the third quarter, when running back Josh Ferguson threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Harris, cutting Penn St.'s lead to 21-7.

The Nittany Lions responded with a touchdown of their own with 3:15 to play in the third quarter. Penn St. quarterback Matthew McGloin capped off an eight play, 57-yard drive with his second rushing touchdown of the day, on a quarterback sneak play.

Penn St.'s defense is still dominating play, despite giving up a touchdown to Illinois. Michael Mauti intercepted his second pass of the day, picking off an errant throw by Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, and returning the ball to midfield.

The interception was Scheelhaase's second of the game, and Illinois' third turnover.

Penn St. will open the fourth quarter with the ball at the Illinois 31, as the Nittany Lions look to tack onto their 28-7 lead.

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Penn. St leads Illinois 21-0 at the half

The Penn St. Nittany Lions are well on their way to a third consecutive victory. Led by a dominating defensive effort, the Nittany Lions lead the Fighting Illini, 21-0 at halftime.

Penn St. added to their 14-0 lead with 3:22 left to go in the second quarter, when Matthew McGloin threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Matt Lehman.

Illinois safety Earnest Thomas was ejected on the touchdown play. Thomas initiated helmet-to-helmet contact with Lehman, after Lehman already crossed the goal line.

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw an interception on 4th-and-goal, as the Fighting Illini passed up a field goal attempt, with 19 seconds left in the first half. Michael Mauti intercepted the pass, and returned it 98 yards, all the way to Illinois' one-yard line, with just one second left on the clock.

Penn St. head coach Bill O'Brien opted to attempt a field goal to end the half, but Sam Ficken's kick was blocked. Ficken also missed a 47-yard field goal earlier in the escond quarter.

The Fighting Illini have been called for six penalties, totaling 54 yards. The Nittany Lions, by comparison, have just two penalties for 17 yards through the first half of play.

Zach Zwinak leads Penn St. with 49 rushing yards on 10 carries – including a touchdown run. Bill Belton has carried the ball 10 times for 36 yards.

Illinois will receive the ball to start the second half, as they look to get something going by just getting on the board.

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Penn St. leads 14-0 after the first quarter

So far, so good for the Penn St. Nittany Lions. Penn St. currently leads Illinois, 14-0, after the first quarter of play.

The Nittany Lions got the scoring underway early in the first quarter. Penn St.'s first offensive possession resulted in a three-and-out, but Illinois return man Tommy Davis fumbled the punt, giving Penn St. the ball at the Illinois 26-yard line.

Penn St. received another break on that drive. On 4th-and-3 from the Illinois 7-yard line, an Illinois defender ran into the kicker, setting up the Nittany Lions with 1st-and-goal. Zach Zwinak punched it in for Penn St., giving the Nittany Lions an early 7-0 lead.

Bill O'Brien's defensive unit forced a quick three-and-out for Illinois, helping to carry over the momentum from the Nittany Lions' first touchdown.

Penn St. added another touchdown on their next possession, marching down the field for an eight play, 60 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Matthew McGloin on a quarterback sneak.

Illinois threatened to add points late in the first quarter, after a 52-yard run from Donovonn Young that brought the ball to Penn St.'s 11 yard line. Illinois' drive stalled, however, and Taylor Zalewski missed a 26-yard field goal.

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Penn State goes for three straight at Illinois

Penn State and Illinois kick off their conference schedules on Saturday.

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Belton appears ready to roll once again

Bill Belton appears ready to return after missing the Nittany Lions' last three contests with a nagging ankle injury.

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