We finally have some good old-fashioned Big Ten football on tap. The No.7-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions will head to Champaign, where the Illinois Fighting Illini will be waiting.
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The Nittany Lions entered this season with a ton of hype and real College Football Playoff aspirations. They’ve put up 101 points in their first two matchups, and they get to face an Illini defense that has dropped off from last season.
Speaking of Illinois, the Illini were a trendy underdog in their matchup last week against Kansas. However, the Jayhawks came out red-hot in the first half and built a lead that proved to be insurmountable.
I mentioned all the preseason hype this Penn State team received, and it’s mainly because of quarterback Drew Allar. Allar has looked phenomenal through the first two games this season, completing 78.2% of his passes while also averaging 9.2 yards per completion.
He’s made this Nittany Lions offense explosive by pushing the ball down the field, and that trend should continue in this matchup. Illinois’ secondary has not looked great thus far, ranking 80th in yards per pass allowed and 73rd in completion percentage allowed.
On top of that, the Illini haven’t generated much pressure, as they rank 83rd in Sack Rate.
However, it doesn’t end with the passing game.
Penn State should be able to move the ball at will on the ground, as the Fighting Illini have shown little fight up front. They’ve allowed 5.2 yards per carry to rank 108th in the country.
Look for the Nittany Lions to continue racking up points in this matchup.
Much like the Nittany Lions, when you look at this Illinois offense, the first person you start with is the quarterback. Sophomore Luke Altmyer has looked solid both through the air and on the ground.
Altmyer led his team back in the second half and made the final score a lot closer as his legs came into play, and they will have to do so again this week if Illinois wants to keep this close.
The biggest reason Altmyer has been running so much is because his offensive line has done him no favors. This unit ranks 121st in Sack Rate Allowed and will now be facing its toughest test yet.
Altmyer’s mobility will be what gets the Fighting Illini on the board, as we’ve seen his ability to extend plays creates downfield passes and scrambling opportunities.
The pick: Over 47.5
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