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Penn State 35, Illinois 7: Nittany Lions tougher mentally, physically

If ever there was an opportunity for a statement game, this was it. The decision Illinois head coach Tim Beckman made to send a pack of assistant coaches to Penn State’s campus under lifted NCAA recruiting rules this summer did not sit well with Penn State players and coaches. On Saturday, in the Big Ten opener on Illinois’s campus, Penn State delivered their formal response with a 35-7 victory. Some might even suggest Success With Honor prevailed.

While Bill O’Brien and his team refrained from speaking too much about their feelings about the way Illinois responded to Penn State’s NCAA sanctions, the message was clear. Prior to the game O’Brien stayed as far away as possible from Beckman, ignoring the formal pregame handshake that happens so often in football. Rather than float around midfield, as many coaches will do during pregame warm-ups, O’Brien stayed closer to the end zone. When it came time for the postgame handshake O’Brien and Beckman met very briefly, with seemingly no words exchanged.

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