Illinois Postgame Notes vs. Penn State
Oct. 9, 2010
Illinois 33, Penn State 13
1. Illinois picked up its first win at Penn State with today's 33-13 victory after entering the game 0-6 all-time in Happy Valley. Today also marks PSU's first Homecoming loss since a 6-4 defeat by Iowa on Oct. 23, 2004. In addition, it is the first time the Nittany Lions have lost consecutive games since 2007, when PSU lost to Michigan and the Illini in back-to-back road games.
2. Illinois' 20 points in the second quarter marks the third-highest scoring second quarter in Ron Zook's tenure with the Illini. The Orange and Blue also held PSU scoreless in the second half, the second time this season that Illinois has held an opponent scoreless in the second half (also vs. Southern Illinois.)
3. LB Nate Bussey had a career day for the Orange and Blue, returning an interception 16 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and also tying his career high with eight tackles. His interception return for a touchdown was the first for an Illini since Terry Hawthorne's pick-six at Minnesota in 2009.
4. The Illini continued their red zone success on offense. Illinois converted all four of its chances in the red zone to scores (2 TD, 2 FG) and is now 16-for-16 this season in red zone scoring.
5. The Illinois defense held PSU to season lows of seven first downs, 235 total yards, 2-of-14 third-down conversions and 21:48 time of possession. The Illini kept the Nittany Lions to only 65 rushing yards a week after Iowa limited PSU to 54 yards on the ground. Penn State had been averaging 138.2 yards per game on the ground entering today's game. The Nittany Lions' seven first downs are the their fewest since gaining six first downs against Iowa on Oct. 23, 2004. And PSU's 235 total yards are its lowest total since it was held to 201 yards by Ohio State on Nov. 7, 2009.
6. Illinois' defense was especially stingy after turnovers, holding Penn State to a pair of field goals after two muffed punts. PSU managed only 13 yards after the first muff and just five yards after the second turnover.
7. The Illini offense also was dominant today, gaining a season-high 437 yards, including 282 rushing yards. It's the third time this year that Illinois has rushed for 200+ yards and the most rushing yards that PSU has allowed since Minnesota rolled up 288 rushing yards on Oct. 2, 2004.
8. RB Mikel Leshoure had a career-high 27 carries for 119 yards against the Nittany Lions. Leshoure now has seven career 100+ rushing games, including four in five games this season. He now has 1,457 career rushing yards, moving up two spots to 22nd on the UI all-time rushing list.
9. QB Nathan Scheelhaase was stellar today, connecting on 15-of-19 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown, a career-best 78.9 completion percentage. He also rushed eight times for 61 yards.
10. RB Jason Ford had a four-yard touchdown pass to freshman Evan Wilson in the third quarter, Ford's first career pass and Wilson's first career TD reception. It also marked the first time an Illini non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass since Sept. 30, 2006, at Michigan State, when running back E.B. Halsey threw a 16-yard TD to Jacob Willis.
11. Ford also had nine carries for 47 yards on the ground, pushing him over 1,000 career yards. He is the 37th player in Illinois history to surpass 1,000 career yards and finished the game with 1,026 yards, tying him with Ruck Steger for 35th on the UI all-time rushing list.
12. Troy Pollard had a season-high eight carries for 55 yards today, doubling his carries in 2010 and marking his most productive rushing game since he posted a career-best 92 yards at Syracuse in 2007.
14. Derek Dimke was 4-for-4 on field goals for the day, hitting from 50, 31, 41 and 38 yards. The last time an Illini kicker hit four field goals was on Oct. 21, 2006, at Penn State, when Jason Reda hit four. Dimke is now 15-for-16 in his career on field goals.
15. Dimke's 50-yard FG in the second quarter marked his second 50+ yard field goal of the season and the second-longest of his career (52 yards vs. Missouri this season). It also marked the longest FG made against Penn State since Ryan Pretorius of Ohio State made a 50-yarder in 2007.