THE HIGH FIVE
WAKE-UP CALL: Late in the third quarter Penn State woke up on both sides of the ball. With Daryll Clark, Stephfon Green and Evan Royster pounding the ball after an early lackluster start to the game, the defense also stood tall and forced several three-and-outs for the Illini. The question is where did the spark come from?
LET'S GET PHYSICAL: Penn State showed shades of old school PSU football with a physical style of offense, pounding the ball on their way to 338 yards on the ground. Tip of the hat to Green, Royster and Clark who had some big runs in the second half.
FRESHLY SQUEEZED: The defense did a solid job of "squeezing" Juice Williams and containing his runs. He found some success, but it was sporadic. Arrelious Benn ended up with five catches for 96 yards and no touchdowns. So the secondary did a decent job covering him, particularly D'Anton Lynn.
WALK THE LINE: It's tough to tell if PSU's offensive line is gelling or if Illinois' defensive line is just that bad, but the offensive line was showing impressive pulls, slides and seals to help the ground and air game find success.
ANOTHER NOD: For weeks we've been praising Andrew Quarless for his emergence. Today he had a banner outing with five receptions for 26 yards. Now the coaches have to put him on a seam so Clark can hit him in motion, but he's been a great possession weapon for PSU.
BONUS HIGH: How about Stephon Morris' speed on that late first half Hail Mary? Nice vision and smooth cuts. Plus a pat on the back to Sean Stanley for his heads up ball-strip of Williams. Nice to see some sparks from some of the freshmen who made the trip to Champaign.
THE LOW FIVE
GOTTA FLAT: It's almost tradition for Penn State to come out flat on the road and Saturday's game was really no different. PSU managed one touchdown in the first half before waking up in the second and scoring 28 more points.
OH, SO SOFT: Why Tom Bradley insists on shifting into the soft zone coverage I'll never know; it just allows teams to find intermediate and short success and build up their confidence. When A.J. Wallace told me last week you have "to play Benn aggressive and get up in his face," I was scratching my head given the track record of PSU's cushion coverage approach.
SAY WHAT?: What is with Craig James fawning over the Nittany Lions the entire game? Is this the same guy who declared "give it to the old fart," a few years ago when Wisconsin exploited a questionable kickoff rule? What's with all the love now Craig? From saying PSU is a top 10 team to continual praise over their tight ends and linebackers, you'd almost think James respects PSU if he wasn't trying to sell a new book.
HOLD THE PHONE: It was a comedy of errors with this officiating crew. Nate Stupar gets flagged for a late hit for falling down and skimming the Illinois player and Nick Sukay gets a phantom helmet-to-helmet call on the Williams' TD pass. Let's not even get into the inconsistency around their holding calls.
SLIP SLIDIN': It may have been me, but there was clearly an issue with PSU keeping their footing on Illinois' field. It seemed to get better in the second half, but it did them no favors in the first half.