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Illinois outlasts Penn State in record-breaking nine overtimes

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Illinois wide receiver Casey Washington catches a game-winning conversion in the ninth overtime against Penn State at Beaver Stadium.
USA TODAY Sports

It took over four hours and nine overtimes, but the Illinois Fighting Illini finally pulled off a historic upset over the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.

The nine extra frames are an FBS record. There had previously been just five games in history to reach seven overtimes, with the most recent coming between LSU and Texas A&M in 2018.

New overtime rules were implemented beginning with the 2019 season. Once a game reached the fifth overtime, teams would no longer start drives from the 25-yard line. Instead, teams begin alternating two-point conversion plays until a winner is determined.

In college football, overtime periods feature two possessions with each team getting one chance on offense and defense. Offenses begin at the opposing team’s 25-yard line and continue that way until a winner is determined. In previous years, teams that scored touchdowns would need to go for two-point conversions beginning with the third overtime and the game would continue that way until someone scored more in a given OT period.

Saturday’s game was tied at 10 heading into overtime. The teams traded field goals in each of the first two overtimes and went scoreless in the third and fourth overtimes. That brought the recently updated rules into play and sent the two sides into two-point conversion craziness.

 

Neither team found the end zone until the eighth overtime, where Illinois’ Isaiah Williams dove in for a score. Penn State came right back and evened the game with a conversion from running back Noah Cain.

Illinois came up with a stand to begin the ninth overtime. The team got the ball back and then won the game thanks to a Brandon Peters pass to Casey Washington.

Illinois finished the afternoon with just 38 passing yards, but Brown and Joshua McCray led the Illini to 357 rushing yards. On the other side, Nittany Lion QB Sean Clifford passed for 165 yards as his team collected just 227 total yards.

The win moved Illinois to 3-5 on the season, while Penn State dropped to 5-2. James Franklin’s squad doesn’t have much time to ice up, either, with a primetime matchup on the road against No. 5 Ohio State coming up next week.