UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State senior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) delivered a record-setting performance in Penn State's 35-7 win at Illinois and has earned his second Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor in the past three games.
A candidate for the Butkus and Bednarik Awards, Mauti was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday for his performance in the Nittany Lions' Big Ten opening win in Champaign.
Mauti also earned the conference accolade after the Nittany Lions' 34-7 win over Navy on Sept. 15 and following the Northwestern game in 2010. Fellow senior linebacker Gerald Hodges was the last Nittany Lion to earn multiple Big Ten weekly honors in the same season, earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Week accolades following the Northwestern and Illinois games in 2011.
Coach Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions (3-2, 1-0) have won three straight games heading into Saturday's Homecoming clash with No. 24/22 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0).
Mauti led another dominant Penn State defensive performance, by recording two interceptions, six tackles (four solo) and combining on a sack. With the Ilini threating to become the first team to score a touchdown against Penn State in the first half, Mauti grabbed a Nathan Scheelhaase pass at the goal line and raced up the near sideline with a convoy of blockers. He avoided several would-be tacklers, but was tripped up at the Illinois one-yard-line. The 99-yard interception return broke the school record for longest interception return, a 98-yard effort by Wayne Berfield at Boston University in 1958.
Mauti made his second pick near midfield late in the third quarter to set-up a Zach Zwinak's second touchdown run of the game for a 35-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. Also in the third period, the former Mandeville High School All-American and defensive end Deion Barnes combined on a seven-yard sack of Scheelhaase.
Led by Mauti, the Nittany Lions forced three turnovers and held Illinois well below its season average of 26.5 ppg, 0 for 3 in the Red Zone, and an 0 of 9 start on third down conversions until late in the third quarter. Before the final Illini drive of the game, Penn State allowed just one of 13 Illinois drives to extend longer than six plays.
For the season, Mauti leads Penn State and is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 48 tackles (26 solo), has 2.5 tackles for minus-29 yards, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups. He also is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with two interceptions, leads with 105 interception return yards and is tied for first in the conference with two forced two fumbles.
Penn State hosts unbeaten Northwestern Saturday for its 93rd Homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. from Beaver Stadium and the game will air on ESPN and the Penn State Sports Network.
Tickets for the Northwestern game and the Nittany Lions' remaining home games with Ohio State (Oct. 27), Indiana (Nov. 17) and Wisconsin (Nov. 24) are available. Ticket purchases and information is available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or fans can call Penn State athletics Customer Relations at 1-800-NITTANY (648-8269) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The pricing of 2012 Penn State football season tickets and accompanying donation levels is the same as in 2011.
Pre-paid single game parking passes for the general parking lots ($10) are also available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets.