This was a sweet win for Bill O'Brien and his Penn State football team.
This summer, most Big Ten teams didn't try to pick at the carcass of the Penn State program when the Nittany Lions' players were allowed to transfer in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Illinois, on the other hand, sent a reported eight coaches to State College to see if players wanted to transfer to Champaign.
No matter the argument about the legality of Illinois' actions, it still seemed like an audacious move against a conference foe that was struggling during a tough time.
Penn State didn't forget, and took out all of its anger on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions pummeled Illinois 35-7 in front of the Illini's home fans (the ones who showed up and stayed, anyway), and the game was just as lopsided as the score would indicate.
Mauti was outspoken about Illinois invading State College this summer (''If you're from our conference and you're going to try and steal our players and then wish us well, then I've got a serious problem with that," Mauti said at Big Ten media days) and he played like he was out for revenge, with two interceptions.
"We never forgot about what happened in the summer," Mauti said, according to the Allentown Morning Call. "... We had that in the back of our minds, and that kept us going."
He wasn't the only player who wanted to get even. Cornerback Stephon Morris said on Twitter that this game meant a little more:
O'Brien and Illinois coach Tim Beckman, who said earlier this week that he had no regrets about sending a team of assistants to Penn State, didn't exchange pleasantries before the game, according to the Altoona Mirror. After the game, O'Brien ran to midfield and gave Beckman one of the shortest and most cold-fish handshakes in postgame history.
O'Brien did take the high road in his postgame comments, from The Scranton Times-Tribune:
"Again, I've said my piece on that in the summertime," O'Brien said. "The sanctions are what they are. The people that are recruiting our kids are playing within the rules. But at the end of the day, we came here today and played a good football game against a tough team. You guys can figure the rest out."
No matter what happens for the rest of Penn State's season, this will probably be the most satisfying win the Nittany Lions will get.
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