The Illinois defense forced a punt on the opening drive of the game, but that's where trouble began for Illinois.
Tommy Davis fumbled the punt, giving the Nittany Lions a second chance. Then, after holding Penn State to a field goal, freshman corner V'Angelo Bentley ran into the kicker. Penn State would later score on a 1-yard run by Zach Zwinak.
The mistakes didn't end there. Terry Hawthorne and Earnest Thomas were called for personal fouls. Taylor Zalewski missed a 26-yard field goal attempt and a fourth-and-short conversion attempt failed.
The Nittany Lions increased the lead with a one-yard score by quarterback Matt McGloin and a 21-yard reception by Matt Lehman.
Driving with a chance to score at the end of the first half, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw an interception in the end zone. Linebacker Michael Mauti nearly returned the pick for a score, tackled at the two-yard line by Miles Osei with one-second remaining. The Illini then blocked the Penn State field goal attempt, ending the half with the Nittany Lions leading 21-0.
Play of the half: Donovonn Young's 52-yard run in the second quarter. With Illinois trailing 14-0 and struggling on offense (five yards total to that point), Young's long scamper breathed life into the unit. The momentum was short-lived, however, as the drive stalled and Zalewski missed the short field goal attempt.
Stat of the half: Third down efficiency: Penn State was 5-of-10 on third down. Illinois, 0-7.
What went right: The passing attack in the second quarter. The stats speak to a drastic change in passing success from the first quarter to the second.
Scheelhaase in the opening period: 3-of-6, eight yards.
The second quarter: 9-for-16, 99 yards.
Scheelhaase found Ryan Lankford five times for 66 yards in the second quarter. Kenny Knight added two catches and Spencer Harris had one.
What went wrong: Costly mistakes, mostly self-inflicted. The list was many: fumbled punt (Davis), running into kicker (Bentley), holding (Harris), personal foul (Hawthorne), missed 26-yard FG (Zalewski), false start (Lankford), dropped pass (next play after the false start, Lankford), failed attempt on fourth down (Scheelhaase sneak), offsides (Spence), personal foul and ejection (Young), interception (Scheelhaase on the final drive).