7:00 PM ET, October 22, 2005
Memorial Stadium, CHAMPAIGN, IL
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Michael Robinson has played wide receiver and running back, but there is no doubt he's as comfortable as could be as Penn State's quarterback.
Robinson threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores -- all in the first half -- leading the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions to a 63-10 rout of Illinois Saturday night. The win keeps the Penn State in a tie with Wisconsin for the Big Ten lead.
"This is as consistent as he's been all year," said coach Joe Paterno, who won his 350th game. "He read things well, hit a couple of open guys and got them the ball in a hurry."
Robinson had scoring throws of 35 yards to Ethan Kilmer, 31 yards and 19 yards to Deon Butler, and 3 yards to Patrick Hall during a first quarter in which the Nittany Lions (7-1, 4-1) averaged more than 11 yards per play on the way to a 28-3 lead. He had touchdown runs of 4 and 31 yards in the second quarter before he was replaced by Anthony Morelli with 1:24 left in the half.
Linebacker Dan Connor ran a fumble back 18 yards for another score and Rodney Kinlaw scored on a 1-yard run 26 seconds before halftime. Nolan McCready ran an interception back 76 yards for Penn State's only second-half score.
"You never expect it to be this easy," Robinson said after completing 11 of 18 passes for 194 yards and leading the team in rushing with 69 yards on seven carries.
The victory was so decisive that Robinson and most of his fellow starters did not play after the Nittany Lions built a 56-3 halftime lead to spoil Illinois' homecoming. The win moved Paterno's record to 350-117-3 in 40 seasons, second on the all-time Division I-A coaching victory list behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden.
"Did I know it was No. 350? No," Paterno said. "It's nice to hear, though."
Penn State set a new school record for scoring in a half, breaking the old mark of 55 set on Oct. 11, 1947, in the first half of a 70-0 victory over Fordham.
"You kind of feel bad," said Robinson, a senior who played running back and receiver, as well as quarterback, during his first three seasons. "You don't want to do that to teams, but nobody felt bad when we were losing like that the past couple of years."
The defeat was the worst for Illinois (2-5, 0-4) since a 69-13 loss to Michigan on Nov. 1, 1986, and marked the second consecutive home game that the Illini have given up more than 60 points, after a 61-14 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 24.
"There's really not a whole lot you can say," said Illini coach Ron Zook after watching his team's losing streak reach five games. "We're going to keep pushing and squeezing and turning. I know there were some good things out there tonight. We've got to keep going."
The Nittany Lions rolled up 438 yards, while Illinois gained 244, its lowest offensive output of the season.
"I never really felt comfortable back there," said Illini quarterback Tim Brasic, who was 8-of-16 for 49 yards. "When you're uneasy back there, you make mistakes."
Illinois took the opening kickoff and marched from its own 20 to the Penn State 23. But a holding penalty stopped the drive and the Illini had to settle for Jason Reda's field goal and a 3-0 lead.
They would gain only 42 more yards and get only one more first down for the rest of the half. They committed nine penalties for 78 yards before halftime.
Just 1:16 after Reda's field goal, Robinson found Kilmer over the middle and he outran two Illini defenders to the end zone with 8:58 left in the quarter. The Nittany Lions scored on seven of eight first-half possessions.
Chris Pazan relieved Brasic in the third quarter and threw the interception that McCready returned for a touchdown. But he also threw a 3-yard TD pass to Rashard Mendenhall to complete a 12-play, 91-yard drive with 2:19 left in the game.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... the Nittany Lions answered the Illini's FG in the first with a TD. It was all the points Penn State would need.
Gameball goes to... Penn State's Michael Robinson, who threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more before halftime.
Stat of the game... 350: The Penn State rout earned JoePa the 350th win of his storied career.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-15||2-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|FG||10:14||JASON REDA 41 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 57 yards.
|TD||8:58||ETHAN KILMER 35 YD PASS FROM MICHAEL ROBINSON (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||6:16||DEON BUTLER 31 YD PASS FROM MICHAEL ROBINSON (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||2:19||DEON BUTLER 19 YD PASS FROM MICHAEL ROBINSON (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||0:36||PATRICK HALL 3 YD PASS FROM MICHAEL ROBINSON (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 38 yards.
|TD||10:57||DAN CONNOR 18 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)||35||3|
|TD||7:00||MICHAEL ROBINSON 4 YD RUN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 57 yards.
|TD||4:08||MICHAEL ROBINSON 31 YD RUN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 60 yards.
|TD||0:26||RODNEY KINLAW 1 YD RUN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 28 yards.
|TD||1:26||NOLAN MCCREADY 76 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)||63||3|
|TD||2:19||RASHARD MENDENHALL 2 YD PASS FROM CHRIS PAZAN (JASON REDA KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 91 yards.