ILL: Report Card

Who made the grade and who did not in the Lions' waxing of the Illini Saturday night? It is not difficult to figure out which side earned kudos and which earned criticism in this one.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Our weekly accounting of those who passed and those who failed as the Nittany Lions push toward a Big Ten crown.

OVERALL: In arguably the most lopsided game of the Big Ten era, the Nittany Lions made few — if any — missteps.
Grade: A

OFFENSE: Penn State had nearly as many yards in the first quarter (232) as Illinois did the entire game (244). The Lions would have hit 70 if they hadn’t mercifully taken a knee at the end and might have broken triple digits had they left the starters in for one more quarter.
Grade: A

DEFENSE: For a few minutes, it looked as though lllinois’ spread offense would give the Lions problems just as Northwestern’s did. But they quickly adjusted to the no-huddle pace, and when they did it was lights out for the Illini. 
Grade: A

SPECIAL TEAMS: Calvin Lowry kept the fair catches to a minimum, and we had to consult the stat sheet to make sure Jeremy Kapinos even played. (He did.) All in all, a pretty good night. 
Grade: B

COACHING: Kudos to the staff for emphasizing the passing game despite the loss of Derrick Williams. Some were expecting the Lions to turn conservative and press their advantage on the ground, but they kept their foot on the gas pedal throughout the first half, with spectacular results. 
Grade: A

INTANGIBLES: The coaches, with a strong assist from the captains, got everyone to forget about last week’s loss to Michigan and focus on the Illini.
Grade: A

OTHER GUYS: Except for its opening drive, Illinois looked dangerously unprepared. It’s a miracle Tim Brasic was able to get up from Tamba Hali’s blindside sack, a play on which he was left alone after drawing double- and triple-teams earlier in the game. Big Ten victories should never be this easy.  
Grade: F

OFFICIALS: The zebras kept control of the game after things started to get chippy in the second quarter.
Grade: A

CROWD: Illinois had a good day at the gate, with a season-high 52,633 pouring into 69,249-seat Memorial Stadium for homecoming. Those fans turned surly in the second quarter, raining down boos and cheering derisively on Illinois’ rare first downs. By the fourth quarter, the stands were nearly vacant. Tough to blame anyone for leaving.
Grade: C


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