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WATCH: Rivers hits Smalling for the 6-yard TD catch

Rivers is starting in his second career game.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing 21-7 in the middle of the second quarter, the Illini got on the board after a 51-yard run by Reggie Corbin set up shop in the redzone. Freshman quarterback MJ Rivers would find wide receiver Ricky Smalling just a few plays later to bring Illinois within one score of the No. 10 ranked Nittany Lions.

Illinois has kept it close with Penn State, and that’s all you can ask from a young team. The Illini will need to slow down Trace McSorley if they plan to hang around in the ballgame.

The players previously suspended for the first three games of the season have also made their debut tonight.