UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg etched
his place in Penn State lore on Saturday afternoon by becoming the program's
all-time leader in passing yardage.
The Virginia native passed Zack Mills (7,212; 2001-04) on the all-time list with 7,453 yards. Hackenberg also became the school's all-time leader in completions with 608.
Additionally, Hackenberg is now second in touchdown passes (43) and tied for the program lead in 200-yard games (18).
The race into the Penn State record book has been a rapid one for Hackenberg. He reached 7,453 yards in just 33 career games. Hackenberg has averaged 225.8 yards per game during his entire career.
The standout signal-caller was superb in Penn State's thrilling 31-30 win over Maryland on Saturday, tossing three touchdowns and nine passing plays of more than 20 yards in a 315-yard effort.
"I couldn't see myself playing with a different bunch of guys in the country," said Hackenberg. "I'm super appreciative of all the support they have for me and the support we have for each other. It's unbelievable."
A selfless player since the day he committed to be a Nittany Lion in 2013, Hackenberg's statistical records place him in elite company of the Penn State greats, but only one stat matters to him - wins.
Penn State returns home on Saturday to face Illinois at 12 p.m. in Beaver Stadium.
History of Halloween Games
Saturday's game is sure to feature its fair share of costumes in the student section with Penn State and Illinois slated to meet on Halloween, marking the Lions' 20th game held on Oct. 31. The Nittany Lions have a long history of games on Halloween, with the first coming on 1888. Penn State is 10-8-1 in games on Oct. 31, which includes a 5-2-1 record at home. Saturday will mark Penn State's first game on Halloween since 1998 (W, 27-0 vs. Illinois) and only the program's second since joining the Big Ten.
Red-Hot Red Zone Offense
The Nittany Lions have been virtually automatic inside the Red Zone during the past five weeks. Penn State has converted 16 of its last 17 trips inside the 20 into points. For the season, the Lions are 24-for-27 at a better than 88 percent conversion rate. The Nittany Lions are ranked fourth in the Big Ten in red zone offense through eight games this season.
Nassib Extends Sack Streak
Thanks to another two-sack effort, Carl Nassib extended his streak of games with at least one sack to eight straight games on Saturday. Nassib tallied 2.0 sacks for a loss of seven yards in Penn State's win at M&T Bank Stadium.
Through eight games, he is leading the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss. Nassib is No. 1 in sacks with 1.7 per game, No. 1 in tackles for loss with 2.2 per game. He is also No. 2 in fumbles forced with 0.6 per game. As a collective unit, the Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation with 4.0 sacks per game and No. 5 nationally in tackles for loss with 9.3 per game.
With 13.5 sacks this season, Nassib is now just 1.5 sacks from the Penn State season sack record set by Michael Haynes (2002) and Larry Kubin (1979).
Early Look at Illinois
Led by interim head coach Bill Cubit, Illinois (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten) travels to Penn State following a 24-13 setback at Wisconsin. The Fighting Illini opened the season 4-1, but have lost two-straight before entering the weekend. Illinois opened Big Ten play with a 14-13 victory over Nebraska before a 29-20 loss at Iowa and last week's game in Madison. Additionally, Illini went 3-1 in non-conference games with victories over Kent State (52-3), Western Illinois (44-0) and Middle Tennessee (27-25). The Illini dropped a 48-14 road decision at North Carolina.
Quarterback Wes Lunt is among the Big Ten's top passers. The Illini junior is fourth in the conference in passing, averaging 243.1 yards per game. Lunt has thrown nine touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 57.2 percent of his passes this season. Wide receiver Geronimo Allison is the Big Ten's leader in receptions with 48 catches for 700 yards and three touchdowns during the first seven games. Allison is No. 16 nationally in receptions. Defensively, safety Clayton Fejedelem is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten with 74 tackles this season.
Penn State and Illinois will meet for the 23rd time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 17-5 all-time against the Illini and 8-1 in games played in Beaver Stadium.
Maryland Extended Game Highlight
Watch highlights from Saturday's 31-30 victory over Maryland.
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