Illinois beat No.7 Penn State on the road for the first big win in Bret Bielema’s tenure. And the Illini have made a phenomenal argument to bring back college football ties to the process.
The Illini beat Penn State in nine overtime – yes, NINE overtime – a stunner on Saturday. It took 60 minutes of regulation time, two normal overtime, and then seven trades of two-point conversion attempts for Illinois to claim the 20-18 victory.
In overtime, it was the longest game in NCAA history.
In total, the two teams combined to score 18 total points in nine overtime periods.
Penn State had the win in their hands in the first overtime go-around, but Jaquan Brisker dropped what looked like an easy interception on the third down for Illinois. Both teams ended up trading field goals for the first two overtime periods, leading to a two-point conversion trade after that due to NCAA rules.
The first rally saw both teams go for the win… and both teams drop the winner. It wasn’t the best football. More drama struck in the fourth round of overtime, as Illinois quarterback Artur Sitkowski rolled right and landed hard on his wrist after another pass was incomplete.
Sitkowski left the game with a neat wrist injury, while Penn State missed their next two attempts. Illinois brought Brandon Peters to center, but the result hasn’t changed. Another incomplete pass from Illinois sent the game into sixth overtime. This was followed by a seventh overtime after both teams again failed to score. Then an eighth, where, finally, someone reached the end zone. Both teams, in fact, which means nine overtime.
And, finally, someone won.
NCAA rule change opened the door for absurd OT
The fun part of a game hitting nine overtime this year is that the NCAA was probably trying to avoid such results when it changed the overtime rules earlier this year.
Previously, teams had to perform two-point conversions after each touchdown in triple and quadruple overtime, then trade two-point conversions starting with quintuple. The NCAA changed it, so teams had to aim for two after touchdowns in the first and second overtime, then trade two-point attempts in triple overtime and beyond.
The rule change resulted in fewer games played by both teams in overtime, but you can hardly say it was less stressful.
How Illinois-Penn State Achieved Overtime
Illinois was not far from winning the game in regulation, as a stalled practice from Penn State saw the Illini recover the ball with 27 seconds left. A few quick plays got them to their own 42-yard line with 13 seconds left, but they never got close to the shooting range.
Neither team found the end zone in the second half of a gloomy day at State College. Sitkowski finished the settlement with just 30 passing yards, while Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, coming off a mid-game outing two weeks ago against Iowa, didn’t look exactly 100 %.
While overtime was defined by passing failures, and finally success, it was a historically prolific game on the field for Illinois. Bielema’s team finished with a school record 67 carries for 357 yards, led by 223 yards and Chase Brown’s touchdown.