With 75 games on Saturday’s college football slate, you knew one of them was bound to get weird. But nine overtimes … is that even legal?
Saturday’s conference showdown between Big Ten rivals Illinois and Penn State went all the way off the rails, with the visiting Illini needing NINE extra periods to finally sink the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions in a Happy Valley thriller that had all of Twitter buzzing.
Before chaos ensued Saturday at Beaver Stadium, the NCAA had never seen a game longer than seven overtimes, but thanks to new rules that went into effect this year, the record finally fell. In previous years, teams would alternate possessions, with each team getting the ball at their opponents’ 25-yard-line. That’s still the case for the first two OT periods, but beginning in triple overtime, rather than start at the 25, each team instead attempts a two-point conversion, continuing so on and so forth until a winner emerges.
Neither team had much luck punching it in, coming up empty until the eighth overtime, when the teams finally traded successful two-point conversions. Brandon Peters, who took over for starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski after he got hurt in the fifth overtime, would be the difference, hammering the final nail in Penn State’s coffin by hitting Casey Washington in the back of the end zone.
That gave the Fighting Illini, who entered Saturday as overwhelming 24.5-point road underdogs, a 20-18 victory while throwing a serious wrench into Penn State’s conference title hopes. Though it wasn’t a banner day for either offense (save for Illinois’ Chase Brown, who rushed for 223 yards on 33 attempts), the lack of scoring did little to dull America’s enthusiasm for one of the wildest games in recent memory.
Prior to Saturday, Illinois hadn’t beat a ranked opponent on the road since stunning Ohio State at the Horseshoe in 2007 (h/t Andrew Bucholtz on Twitter).