Covering the Land of Lincoln

Watch now: Illinois, Penn State both staying mum on starting quarterbacks | College Sports

James Boyd

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois and No. 7 Penn State won’t be announcing their starting quarterbacks until Saturday’s Big Ten showdown at Beaver Stadium.

The Illinois and Nittany Lions face similar circumstances, with one of their top quarterbacks either recovering or recovering from an injury, but the Illinois situation is a little less defined.

Brandon Peters, who missed two games this season with an AC joint sprain on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, according to ACC Network, started the year as the Illinois starter and has started in all five games he has appeared in. The sixth grader’s performance when healthy wasn’t strong enough to cement his QB1 status as his team is returning from a bye week.

Peters was knocked out with an unknown injury in Illinois’ final game against Wisconsin on October 9. He didn’t train last week but came back and trained this week, according to Bret Bielema, first year coach at Illinois.

Rutgers transfer Artur Sitkowski stepped in whenever Peters was out this season.

“We’ll make this (starting quarterback) decision public at the beginning of the game, so I won’t name a starter beforehand,” Bielema said on Thursday. “Our players know it, our coaches know it. Everything has been like this since training on Tuesday.”

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Peters is 40-of-82 pass for 410 yards and a touchdown against an interception this season. Sitkowski, who led Illinois to his only Conference win of the year against Nebraska in the season opener, is 66-of-129-pass for 666 yards and six TDs with one pick.

Unlike the Illinois, Penn State has a clear starter, but whether or not he plays is still up in the air. Nittany Lions QB1 Sean Clifford ended his top five match in Iowa on October 9 in the second quarter with an unknown injury and his team lost their first game of the year.

Penn State coach James Franklin would “like Sean back” according to Sean Fitz of 247Sports. The fifth year senior trained this week but got a third of the reps along with backup Ta’Quan Roberson and freshman Christian Veilleux.

“We’ll see where (Clifford) is by Saturday,” Franklin said. “Hopefully we have an idea beforehand. But it was good to see that he could do some repetitions.”

Bielema said his team will be ready no matter who starts from under the middle for the Nittany Lions.

“We have prepared ourselves offensively for different looks,” said Bielema. “(For) all three quarterbacks we had fixtures (with) an agreement that we don’t really know who will show up on Saturday, so we’ll do it as it plays out in front of us during the game.”

Both the eventual Illinois and Penn State quarterbacks will face formidable defense. The Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten with 12 takeaways, and the Nittany Lions are # 1 on defense in the conference, keeping their opponents at 13.8 points per game.

Penn State is also in a three-game winning streak against Illinois, including a 56-21 win last year in both teams’ season finals. Bielema was present for that game on December 19, 2020, the same day he was announced as the program’s new head coach.

“Back then (the players are) just names and numbers. I enjoyed the atmosphere they played in. I told them that on Sunday,” said Bielema. “But now the emotions I feel with them are real. Seeing the disappointment in their eyes after some of those heavy losses, but also seeing the joy in their eyes after a couple win makes it a lot more tangible and real.”

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

Watch Now: Caleb Griffin of Illinois plays catch with a few fans

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home

PHOTOS: Illinois welcomes Wisconsin to return home


James Boyd, Herald & Review

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