This year for Penn State, everything started to go according to the plan as things started in the right direction for the program.
They started the season with a 5-0 record and defeated two ranked opponents in the process which included Wisconsin and Auburn. However, the dream season was all derailed thanks to Iowa two weeks ago and Illinois last weekend.
The Same Story Different Year for Penn State
Losing to the Iowa Hawkeyes definitely is a heartbreaker as the Nittany Lions put up two touchdowns on the scoreboard and led 14-3 after the first quarter.
However, in the last quarter of regulation Penn State couldn’t get the offense going as they were shut out from the endzone and ultimately lost 23-20.
Heading back home as they awaited the Illinois Fighting Illini, this was viewed as an easy matchup as they were 2-5 before this game and held scoreless against the Wisconsin Badgers two weeks prior to the meeting.
The Nittany Lions were -24.5 favorites when the lines closed and no one envisioned that the game would be close in any circumstance.
Illinois completely abandoned the passing game as quarterback Artur Sitkowski threw for 38 yards and one interception.
Illinois torched the field with 357 rushing yards, but Penn State’s defense did a good job limiting the scoring.
For Penn State, the offense never clicked for the 60 minutes of regulation as both teams were tied 10-10 heading into overtime. The two teams made NCAA history as the two programs played the first-ever nine-overtime game.
Illinois wide receiver Casey Washington made the game-winning 2-point catch on a pass from Brandon Peters in the final overtime, notching a stunning 20-18 upset as the team took down the seventh-best team in the nation.
This is the biggest win of Coach Bret Bielema’s tenure as Illinois is trying to rebuild the program in a new direction.
As for Penn State, this is a gut-wrenching loss as they took the biggest fall in the AP Top 25 poll, dropping to number 20 in the process.
Under James Franklin’s eight and a half year tenure as coach, the Nittany Lions are consistently unable to lift the two consecutive loss curse.
Under Franklin’s leadership for that span, Penn State has failed to reach the mark of two consecutive losses just once, which was back in 2016 when the school was named the Big Ten Champions.
For the Fighting Illini, it is hard to say if they will have the roster to win one or two more games to finish the season as the team will face Iowa in a couple of weeks.
Nevertheless, this is a huge win for the program as they continue to search for a new identity moving forward.
What Does This Crushing Defeat Imply For the Big Ten Moving Forward
This horrific defeat means that the Nittany Lions are not eligible for any type of championship aspirations this year.
Some teams will remain unaffected but this loss will help them as it may not show in the latest polls.
Ohio State may have been ranked above Penn State throughout the season, but Penn State losing helps them out in a big way.
The Buckeyes will have a two-game lead in the Big Ten East standings as they currently have one loss on their record because of Oregon.
If they want to make another Playoff run, they will have to remain undefeated for the remainder of the season before they reach the conference championship game.
Even after the Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Purdue a little more than a week ago, the program is in complete control of its destiny. No other school is chasing the Big Ten West leaders.
They have to win out the rest of their schedule to make it to the Playoff.
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