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Monday Notebook: Lions 5-1 Following Setbacks Under O'Brien

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Under the direction of head coach Bill O'Brien, the Nittany Lions have been very strong in the week following a setback.

9387960.jpegAside from dropping the first two games of the 2012 season, Penn State has gone 5-0 under O'Brien after a loss.  That list includes two victories in 2013 after a setback.  Penn State shut out Kent State (34-0) after dropping a 34-31 decision to UCF.  After the Big Ten opener at Indiana, the Nittany Lions responded with a thrilling 43-40 quadruple overtime victory over Michigan on Oct. 12.

Last season, Penn State out-scored its opponents by a combined 130-62 in the games after a loss.  The Nittany Lions get back to work on Monday afternoon to kick off preparations for Illinois.

"You'll hear it from me, you'll hear it from coach and you'll hear it from everybody you ask, we've got a bunch of resilient guys on this team," sophomore cornerback Jordan Lucas said.  "I know we are going to bounce back.  I'm not worried about that.  I know the type of guys we have."

The Nittany Lions host Illinois on Saturday at noon.  The game will air on ESPN.

- Robinson Turns In Another Gem
Thanks to a career-high tying 12 receptions for 173 yards at Ohio State, junior wide receiver Allen Robinson is again the Big Ten leader in receptions and receiving yardage.  Robinson's 173 yards on Saturday marked the fifth time in seven games this season that the junior standout has eclipsed 100 yards in a game.  Robinson moved into fifth on the career receptions chart, passing O.J. McDuffie's 125 receptions.  Robinson now has 135 career receptions.  He is averaging 7.9 receptions per game and 125.4 yards per contest in 2013.  Robinson ranks ninth in the nation in receiving yards at 878 and fifth nationally in receiving yards per game.  Additionally, the Michigan native is No. 10 in the nation in receptions per game.

- Nittany Lions in the Stat Rankings
Heading into Saturday's Leaders Division clash against Illinois, Penn State ranks No. 11 nationally in red zone offense.  The Lions have converted 92 percent of their red zone trips into points this season.  Averaging just 30.43 penalty yards per game, Penn State ranks No. 3 nationally in fewest penalty yards.  The Nittany Lions are also one of just four teams in the nation who have not allowed a fourth down conversion on defense this season.  In the Big Ten, the Lions rank second in passing offense at 277.0 yards per game. Individually, in addition to Robinson's accolades, freshman Christian Hackenberg continues to lead the Big Ten in passing yards (1,784) and yardage per game (254.9).  Senior DaQuan Jones is ranked first in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 1.21 TFL per game.  Sam Ficken is second in the Big Ten in field goals (1.57 made kicks per game).

- Illinois Results

After a 3-1 start to the non-conference season, Illinois dropped to 0-3 in the Big Ten on Saturday after its 42-3 home setback to Michigan State.  The Fighting Illini opened the season with wins over Southern Illinois (42-34) and Cincinnati (45-17).  Illinois dropped a 34-24 decision to then-No. 19 Washington before capping off the non-conference slate with a 50-14 victory over Miami (Ohio).  Illinois dropped its conference opener at Nebraska by a score of 39-19 before two-straight home losses to then-No. 25 Wisconsin (56-32) and Michigan State.

Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase leads the Illinois offense.  The veteran signal-caller is ranked fourth in the Big Ten in passing with 235.6 yards per game.  Sophomore running back Josh Ferguson is a superb athlete on the Illini offense.  Ferguson is the team's leading rusher at 361 yards and leading receiver (25 rec. for 361 yards).  He has five touchdowns this season.  Senior linebacker Jonathan Brown leads the conference in tackling at 76 stops (10.9 per game) through seven games.  V'Angelo Bentley is the Big Ten's top kickoff returner.  Bentley has a 100-yard kickoff return for a score and averages 30.8 yards per return.

The Nittany Lions own a 16-4 on-field record against Illinois.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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