CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Penn State coach James Franklin was fine without scoring a bunch of style points on its first road trip of the season.
Cam Miller, Abdul Carter, Daequan Dixon and Johnny Hardy had interceptions and No. 7 Penn State took advantage of five turnovers by Illinois to beat the Illini 30-13 Saturday.
The Nittany Lions (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) overcame a sub-par effort by Drew Allar, who completed just 16 of 33 passes for 208 yards, and the offense. The second-year quarterback connected on 78% of his passes in his first two games.
Allar’s struggles didn’t concern Penn State coach James Franklin.
“This was a beautiful win. Anytime you can win on the road in the Big Ten, especially in an 11 o’clock game in front of big crowd, it’s pretty,” Franklin said. “We grinded it out, especially in the first half. We didn’t take control then, but we didn’t lose control.”
Luke Altmyer was intercepted four times before he was benched, and running back Josh McCray lost a fumble for Illinois (1-2, 0-1), which has lost two straight.
“We held them to 62 yards rushing. That shouldn’t be overlooked,” Franklin said. “We also won the third-down game and the field position game.”
Altmyer completed 15 of 28 passes for 163 yards. John Paddock relieved and was 10 of 16 for 129 yards and a touchdown, a 19-yard pass in the fourth quarter to Malik Elzy.
It appears Altmyer’s starting job is safe despite his troubles Saturday.
“We didn’t give Luke a good enough game plan to be successful,” said Illinois coach Bret Bielema. “What I didn’t like were his early down interceptions, especially on our first drive of the second half.”
Penn State took the ball away three times in the first half, but had trouble getting into the end zone, settling for a 16-7 lead on three field goals by Alex Felkins and a 4-yard touchdown run by Kaytron Allen.
Illinois closed the gap to 13-7 on a touchdown run by Reggie Love, who bulled his way into the end zone from five yards out. Love’s TD was set up by a blocked field goal by Jer’Zhan Newton.
Franklin was happy with his offensive line, which had its hands full with the All-American Newton, who was involved in six tackles.
“We wanted to block Jer’Zhan, and we did,” he said.
After a three-and-out by Penn State to start the second half, Altmyer connected with Isaiah Williams on a 32-yard pass to the Nittany Lions 25. But Dixon picked off an Altmeyer pass on the next play.
“I still like this football team,” Bielema said. “Our theme this week was to identify, adjust and excel, and we didn’t do that against a good team. Next week is another opportunity to get better. We’ve still got nine games left.”
Penn State pulled away in the second half, scoring on a halfback pass from 11 yards out from Trey Potts to Tyler Warren and Nick Singleton’s 16-yard run that made it 30-7 early in the fourth quarter.
No. 21 Duke 38, Northwestern 14
DURHAM, N.C. — Riley Leonard ran for two touchdowns and threw for 219 yards to lead Duke to a win against Northwestern.
Jordan Waters also ran for two touchdowns and Jalon Calhoun caught five passes for 112 yards as the Blue Devils (3-0, 1-0 ACC) opened the season with three straight wins for the second year in a row under coach Mike Elko.
Northwestern quarterback Ben Bryant was 17-for-34 for 123 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Wildcats (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) had 267 yards of total offense, with 90 of those in the fourth quarter.
Louisville 31, Indiana 21
INDIANAPOLIS — With Louisville facing fourth-and-goal, 18 inches away from a tie score, linebacker Stanquan Clark sensed what Indiana would do.
So he trusted his instincts — and his film study.
Then the freshman a read that took him the Hoosiers backfield where he stuffed Josh Henderson with 4:38 to go and waited for his teammates to help prerserve a victory against Indiana.
“I’d seen that play coming,” Clark said. “I watched film all week, so I knew it was going to be a power sweep.”
Officially, he had just three tackles. But it was the last, memorable one that will go down as the play of the day and perhaps the play of the year for the Cardinals.
First-year coach Jeff Brohm has his alma mater off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2016. Brohm also got his first win at Lucas Oil Stadium. He’d lost in the building twice before — first to Louisville in his debut as Purdue’s head coach in 2017 then to Michigan in last season’s Big Ten championship game, which ended his Boilermakers tenure.
But after a dominant first half had the Cardinals leading 21-0, they couldn’t secure the victory until Clark and T.J. Quinn corralled Henderson well short of the goal line and the offense ran out the clock.
“I wish they could all be pretty, and we could dominate every game, but I applaud our guys — they fought to the end,” Brohm said. “They dove in there, we manned up and figured out a way to win.”
The bigger question was why Indiana (1-2) called a slow-developing handoff to the deep back rather than letting new starting quarterback Tayven Jackson line up under center and plunge ahead?
“It didn’t work so you, obviously, wish you would have done something else,” Allen said. “You’ve got the ball on the 6-inch line, knock them off the football and go score. I don’t care what you call.”
But without some aggressive play-calling and a promising second half from Jackson, just five days after winning the job, the Hoosiers wouldn’t have even been this close.
After Jamari Thrash opened the first half with an 85-yard TD catch and Jawhar Jordan closed out the half with a 25-yard scoring run, the Cardinals appeared to be in complete command — until Allen opened the second half with an onside kick the Hoosiers recovered.
It took Jackson three plays to find Jaylin Lucas for a 30-yard TD pass — the first of Jackson’s career.
Two series later, Jackson deftly engineered a 97-yard drive, capped by Henderson’s 2-yard TD run to make it 21-14 late in the third quarter. Jackson nearly tied it up himself when he lunged toward the goal line and put the ball on the pylon but a replay review showed him short of the goal line and Henderson was stopped short on Indiana’s final play.
“We spend a lot of time preparing for goal line,” Brohm said. “Just a tremendous stop.”