In what turned out to be one of the most historic games ever to be played in college football turned out to be one that will live on in one of Penn State fans’ worst memories.
A shockingly porous run defense allowed 357 yards on the ground, and Illinois knocked off the No. 7 Nittany Lions, 20-18, in nine overtime periods.
The previous record for overtime periods in NCAA history was seven.
A new NCAA rule this year forces teams to go for 2-point conversions starting in the third overtime. The two teams traded field goals in the first two overtimes, before trading five straight 2-point conversions.
Illinois running backs Chase Brown and Josh McCray ran for 223 and 142 yards, respectively.
On the ninth attempt, quarterback Sean Clifford’s pass was incomplete to Parker Washington. On Illinois’ attempt, backup quarterback Brandon Peters pass was complete to Casey Washington to end the game.
Illinois starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who is a Rutgers transfer, was injured on the Illini’s fourth overtime possession with what appeared to be an arm injury.
A defensive touchdown was called back as a fumble was ruled forward progress in the first quarter. The drive still resulted in a punt, but it was still a call that went against Penn State that could have gave them a little more of a cushion.
The Lions got the scoring going as Clifford hit KeAndre Lambert-Smith on a slant for a 42-yard touchdown with nine seconds to play in the first quarter.
A Sitkowski fumble resulted in a Jordan Stout 35-yard field goal to put Penn State up 10-0 with 11:12 to play in the first half.
Brown got the scoring going for the Illini with a 1-yard jaunt with 2:52 left to play in the first half.
Penn State had a golden opportunity to extend its lead in the third quarter as a sack-fumble put the Lions into Illinois territory. However, a Stout 40-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
Illinois returned the favor in the middle of the third quarter as kicker James McCourt missed wide left on a 50-yard attempt.
Things got interesting in the fourth quarter as a pair of Illini touchdowns were called back – one on a Sitkowski pass, and another on a run by Brown. The drive resulted in a 37-yard field goal by McCourt to tie the game at 10 with 11:49 to play.
The Lions will look to regroup this week and go on the road to Ohio State next weekend.
NOTES: Former Penn State kicker Kevin Kelly was the game’s honorary captain. … Attendance on Homecoming was announced as 105,001. … PSU’s game at Ohio State on Saturday will be another primetime game that starts at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.