2018 Game Day: No. 10/9 Penn State Opens Big Ten Play at Illinois

September 21, 2018

No. 10/9 Penn State opens its nine-game Big Ten slate at Illinois, taking the field at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2014 on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on FS1.

Penn State is playing its first regular-season game on a Friday since a 1982 day-after-Thanksgiving tilt against Pittsburgh. The No. 2 Nittany Lions defeated the No. 5 Panthers, 19-10, to conclude the regular season, and then went on to defeat No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to win the National Championship.

The game opens Penn State's 26th Big Ten season.

The Nittany Lions have been dominant since its season-opening overtime battle with Appalachian State, outscoring their last two opponents 114-16 overall and 72-0 in the second half.

Penn State has found success in all three phases of the game, ranking in the top 40 in both offense and defense, while boasting the fourth-best kickoff return average and 16th-best punt return average.

Quarterback Trace McSorley has led the scoring attack, taking responsibility for 66 points to rank second in the Big Ten and seventh in FBS. On the other side of the ball, the Penn State defense has put significant pressure on opposing quarterbacks, ranking fourth in FBS with 4.33 sacks per game.

Illinois is 2-1 to open 2018, defeating Kent State and Western Illinois in the first two weeks of the season, respectively, before succumbing to a fourth-quarter rally by South Florida in a neutral site contest on Chicago's Soldier Field last week. The Fighting Illini have excelled in the turnover battle this season, as they are tied for the lead in the Big Ten (Ohio State) with a plus-five turnover margin and have at least one takeaway in their last 17 games.

Last Updated September 21, 2018