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Illinois 16, Penn State 14: Happy Senior Day!

The Illini managed to upset the Nittany Lions to keep the bowl game dream alive.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Senior Day is traditionally my least favorite game of the season every year. It means no more football will be played in Champaign for the larger part of a year. It also means we see another class suit up and take Zuppke Field for the final time. I generally don't get emotional about sports (or most things, a benefit of sociopathy) but I am always saddened watching that. It's like attending a wake. I even wore black for it.

But there is no sadness left in me today. The Illini managed to upset Penn State 16-14, raising their season record to 5-6. The seniors got to sing in the endzone one last time. What a day.

Il buono

  • The seniors on offense. Reilly O'Toole replaced an ineffective Wes Lunt in the second quarter. After a shaky first drive, O'Toole turned it on. Reilly went 18-25 for 157 yards and a TD. Donovonn Young had 62 yards on 14 carries. Matt Lacosse caught the lone Illini TD of the day.
  • The defense. Penn State's anemic offense helped a ton, but I'm not going to crap on a unit that held an opponent to 265 total yards.
  • Mike Dudek. Another day, another amazing game for the freshman. Dudek caught 11 passes for 115 yards, pushing him up to 902 yards on the season. And we get at least two more years of him. Insanity.
  • Justin DuVernois. 8 punts for a 41.2 yard average with a 71 yarder thrown in for good measure? I'll take it.
  • David Reisner. Illinois had successfully kicked two field goals coming into today. Reisner knocked in 3 of 4, only missing a 50 yard attempt. His 36 yarder with 8 seconds left turned out to be the game winner.

Il cattivo

  • Wes Lunt. Lunt never looked comfortable today, going 8-17 before being yanked in the second quarter.
  • Josh Ferguson. Fergie didn't take a single snap in the 1st quarter and then only wound up averaging 1.8 yards per carry.

Il bruto

  • The inevitable "LOOK HOW EMPTY THE STANDS ARE!" pictures and articles. Illinois is not a good football team. It is currently fall break. Of course the stadium is empty.