In what will, in all likelihood, be Tim Beckman's last home game as the head coach of the Fighting Illini, the team welcomes in the Penn State Nittany Lions for senior day. Needing to win out to become bowl eligible, Illinois will have to play a nearly-flawless game this Saturday. Our staff writers weigh in on what they think will happen below.
Jim Vainisi --- Penn State 24, Illinois 14
Tim Beckman probably won't be the head coach next week against the Northwestern Wildcats. One. More. Week.
Mark Primiano --- Penn State 20, Illinois 10
I'm expecting a complete slog here. Penn State has no offense. Their defensive line should have zero problems with our depleted offensive line. Nittany Lions by ten.
Aaron Rench --- Penn State 17, Illinois 10
For two losing teams meeting so late in the season, this game actually has a lot riding on it: careers, bowls, perception, pride, old hatred from a confused-and-misreported-incident-about-recruiting-another-team's-players, and freshmen receivers remaining on the All-Freshmen team. However, I don't think the Illini can pull this one out. The Penn State defense is just too good.
Colin Whitchurch --- Illinois 30, Penn State 24
The Penn State offense is nothing special, making me think even the Illini's putrid defense should even look competent. Conversely, while the Penn State defense has been stout against lesser competition, Wes Lunt — a week removed from his return — and the Illini offense should be able to put up enough points to keep it interesting. In the end, I went with the Illini for no other reason than because the idea that next week's game could either A) make them bowl eligible, B) be Tim Beckman's last game or c) both, which is pretty hilarious.
Bryce Smith --- Penn State 13, Illinois 7
This one is going to be UGLY. Penn State's offense has been terrible and ours wasn't exactly so good last week. PSU's defense also might be better than Iowa's defense so it might be even harder to score. With a brutal offense of line and Wes Lunt struggling if the offense is dry then they need to switch it up for at least a few plays. If O'Toole and/or Bailey can't do anything you put Lunt back in. The only way we can win this is if the defense doesn't screw up (don't think they will) and the Mikey Dudek catches some long TDs.
Brad Repplinger --- Illinois 52, Penn State 49
First off, if you see any explosions coming from Block I, it's because I'll be hanging with Jim during the game in the North Endzone. Since we'll be braving the cold and potential rain, I'm rooting for a shootout. David Reisner gets a chance to win the game late, and hits a FG while time expires to keep the Illini in the hunt for a bowl game. Need to bring my orange kool-aid blanket to keep warm...
Trevor Vallese --- Penn State 16, Illinois 9
Lately, Illinois' offense has been anemic. Penn State's defense is one of the best in the country. There's a 100% chance of "steady rain" starting at 10:00 AM on Saturday. This game is going to be sooooo ugly. In the pouring rain, the Illini will score an early second quarter touchdown to go up 7-0 but that will be the last time they lead all afternoon. Christian Hackenberg will lead Penn State on several long drives that end in points and their defense will simply be too much for the Illini. The Nittany Lions tack on a couple of late field goals and I'll throw a safety Illinois' way just for the hell of it.
Matt Silich's prediction can always be found in his excellent weekly game preview (seriously, check it out). Be sure to drop by below to tell us what you think is going to happen against Penn State!