Players of the game: The Penn State trio -- Hackenberg, Bill Belton and Allen Robinson. Hackenberg was 20 of 32 with 240 yards and a touchdown. Belton rushed for a career high 201 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries. Allen caught 11 passes for 165 yards.
For Illinois, Josh Ferguson had two touchdowns before leaving late with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Mason Monheim forced a fumble near the goal line in the fourth quarter, a play that kept Illinois in the lead with a chance to win.
Stat of the game: Penalties. Penn State entered as one of the least flagged teams in the country, but finished with 11 penalties for 95 yards. Illinois had nine flags of it's own, including a chop block call that nullified a first half touchdown.
The takeaway: What a gut punch. Illinois has lost 18 straight conference games, none stinging more than this one. At first it looked to be another embarrassment. Penn State scored on it's first two possessions and the Illini offense was intercepted in the red zone and had a TD called back. Down 14-0, the entire team resounded. The defense bent but didn't break. It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. The offense gained yards and scored points. Again, it wasn't pretty. But Illinois scored 17 straight and carried a 3-point lead into the final minute of the game. The ending didn't go the way Orange and Blue wanted. While this loss showed marked improvement for the defense, it's a tough way to lose for a team that so desperately needs a win in the Big Ten to feel good about itself.