Halftime: Penn State 10, Illinois 7

By Joel Neuschwander on October 23, 2021 at 1:39 pm
Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) drops back to pass against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State is locked in a battle with Illinois on a dreary day at Beaver Stadium.

Here are some halftime thoughts as the Nittany Lions head into the break with a 10-7 lead.

  • Understandably, Mike Yurcich didn't want to put too much on Sean Clifford's shoulders early on. When Penn State finally did throw the ball, it reaped the rewards immediately.
  • Jahan Dotson's 36-yard reception in the first quarter was part-bad throw and part-Jahan just wanting it more. An unreal effort on a pass that easily could've been intercepted.
  • There are still some lingering effects of Clifford's injury, as he doesn't seem to posses his usual willingness or ability to escape the pocket.
  • When Illinois has committed to the run, they've absolutely gashed the Nittany Lions. Chase Brown is pretty much carrying the Illini offense thus far. PJ Mustipher's absence is already being felt.
  • Keyvone Lee had a couple solid pickups, but hasn't found consistency. Keep an eye on which back gets the majority of the touches in the second half after John Lovett provided a spark with an 18-yard gain on his first carry.
  • Two huge takeaways from the Nittany Lion defense (and they might've been robbed of a third). Curtis Jacobs came up with a pick on the opening drive that halted the early Illini momentum.
  • The weather seemed to be a factor over the first 30 minutes as both offenses sleepwalked through large parts of the half.

30 minutes down, 30 minutes remaining for Penn State to put this one away.