Game Grades: Penn State vs. Illinois

Story posted October 25, 2021 in

This should be interesting.

It may be an understatement to say that not much went right for Penn State during its 20-18 loss against Illinois in nine overtimes.

Let’s take a look at how each position group performed during the loss.

Offense: F

Record books may need to be looked at for this one as this might be the first time an “F” has been used for one of these articles, but it makes a ton of sense.

The Nittany Lions were simply unable to move the ball during the game while playing one of the worst teams in the Big Ten in Illinois.

KeAndre Lambert-Smith was the only Penn State player to score a touchdown as he did so late in the first quarter.

Sean Clifford didn’t look to be at full strength coming back from his injury against Iowa and the rushing attack didn’t help take the pressure off him.

Noah Cain led the way with a measly 43 yards in that category but the main reason for the low grade was the overtime periods.

The Nittany Lions were given NINE chances to find the end zone with seven of them being two-point conversion attempts and only eight total points were scored after the fourth quarter.

Two field goals and a two-point conversion wasn’t enough to get by the Fighting Illini and it definitely won’t be enough to get by Ohio State on Saturday.

Defense: B-

Despite only giving up 20 points even with all those overtimes, the front seven got exposed on almost every run play.

The Fighting Illini rushed for 357 yards which includes 223 yards from starter Chase Brown who eclipsed the total on 33 carries.

The loss of PJ Mustipher showed to be a big problem as most of the runs were attacking up the middle where he would normally play.

On the other hand, the blue and white’s pass defense had one of it’s best games this season as they only allowed 38 total yards through the air and even forced an interception early in the game with Curtis Jacobs coming down with one.

There is a lot to work on with the defensive side of the ball but not all was terrible, especially with how long they stood strong as the overtimes kept coming.

Coaching: D-

There were a ton of questionable decisions from the coaching staff in this one.

Sean Clifford did not look to be at full strength and he seemed more limited than normal yet he remained in the game despite his struggles.

The offensive play calling from offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was surprisingly conservative as Clifford didn’t take too many shots downfield and the run game was once again non-existent.

As overtime approached, the Nittany Lions had and blew several chances to score as plays such as the Philly Special and runs with Noah Cain up the middle just didn’t work.

This was easily the worst coached game from James Franklin and the rest of the staff as there are a lot of issues which need to be fixed before heading to Columbus.


Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.