Illinois vs Penn State: What to watch for

Zak KulinContributor ISeptember 26, 2008

Many are touting Saturday night's spotlight match-up of Penn State and Illinois as a potential roadblock for the Nittany Lions. If the Lion's can execute their game-plan and excel at what they do best, victory should be imminent. Here are a few keys to the game Saturday night:


1. The Illini Offense vs The Nittany Lion Defense

-Juice Williams is no doubt a highly regarded quarterback and is very talented. The fact that he is a duel threat to the Penn State defense is worrisome enough, but couple that with the Illini running game, and Penn State could be in for a shootout of sorts. One key is that Penn State will likely have defensive ends Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma back in the lineup to counter this potent offense. If this battle is to be won by the Nittany Lion's, the running game of Illinois needs to be neutralized. This will expose the one weak point in the Illini offense: forcing Juice Williams to pass. He has five interceptions thus far playing teams such as Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette.

2. Arrelious Benn vs The Nittany Lion Special Teams

-Arrelious Benn might be the single most talented player on the Illinois squad. The Sophomore sensation is one of the most talented kick returners in the nation, and showcasing his abilities Saturday may not be that difficult. If there was one blemish on the Penn State win over Temple last week, it would be the Penn State special teams effort in defending returns. On numerous occasions Temple put themselves in excellent field position, only to fail more often than not. The combination of the Illini offense and Arrelious Benn is a bit more daunting than what Temple brought to the table. If the same scenario rears it's ugly head again, look for Illinois to convert.

3. Daryll Clark vs The Illini Defense

-Currently, Penn State ranks number one in Scoring, Rushing yards, and Passing Yards in the Big Ten.  Would you like to know who is right behind them? No, not Ohio State. Yes, Illinois ranks number two in Scoring, four in Rushing, and three in Passing. Daryll Clark will get his first Big Ten test of the year, and all he needs to do is manage the game. Forcing passes, which he is sometimes prone to doing, is not something that will benefit this team. Royster and Green provide for a great rushing tandem, which should be able to run effectively against the Illini. If Daryll Clark makes mistakes, Penn State could be in for a battle.


My Prediction:   Penn State 38    Illinois 24