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College football spotlight

Penn State linebacker transfers pain to Illini

Senior linebacker Michael Mauti, unhappy that Illinois tried to recruit Penn State players during the summer, leads Nittany Lions to 35-7 rout of Illini.

September 30, 2012|By Mike Hiserman, Los Angeles Times
  • Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti had six tackles, a forced fumble and two interceptions against Illinois.
Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti had six tackles, a forced fumble and… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)

Michael Mauti let his performance do his talking.

The Penn State linebacker made an emphatic statement with six tackles, a forced fumble and two interceptions Saturday as the Nittany Lions routed Illinois, 35-7.

Mauti, a senior, wasn't made available to the media last week in the days leading up to the game. The reason was clear: Mauti hadn't minced words about his feelings for Illinois at Big Ten media day.

Illinois had sent a large contingent of coaches to State College, Pa., over the summer in the wake of an NCAA announcement that Penn State football players could transfer without losing eligibility as part of sanctions against the school related to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal.

"You're going to sit here and wish our program well and then try to pull the legs out from underneath us and take our kids?" Mauti said of the Illinois coaches. "Well, you are playing by the rules. But there really are no rules. If you're gonna wish us well and then try to take our kids, then I got a problem with that."

Once the game started, the problems all belonged to Illinois.

Mauti's first interception came just before halftime when he stepped in front of a pass at the goal line and raced 99 yards before running out of gas and getting tripped up just short of a touchdown.

"Ninety-nine yards without a touchdown. That one's gonna hurt," Mauti said. "That's gonna haunt my dreams."

But not ruin them.

"It was sweet, that's what it was," Mauti said of the game. "We haven't forgotten about what happened in the summer."

He traded . . . down

Illinois' first-year coach, Tim Beckman, said he regretted that the recruiting trip ended up being the focus of so much attention. He said he had been contacted by a player who was seeking to transfer and pursuing more transfers was "what the NCAA allowed us to do."

The only Penn State-to-Illinois transfer was Ryan Nowicki, a redshirt freshman who is from Illinois. An offensive lineman, he was not on Illinois' two-deep for the game.

Strange 'Cats

The Big Ten has two remaining undefeated teams: Ohio State and . . . Northwestern?

Yes, Northwestern. The Wildcats improved to 5-0 with a 44-29 win over Indiana, a game in which they rushed for 394 yards.

Northwestern has an interesting mix on offense. Its leading rusher, Venric Mark, is a converted wide receiver. And the Wildcats regularly play two quarterbacks, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian.

Against Indiana, Colter ran for 161 yards and four touchdowns and Siemian passed for 308 yards. Mark ran for 138 yards and a touchdown and Mike Trumpy added 87 yards in 14 carries.

Air shows

The West Virginia-Baylor, Geno Smith-Nick Florence shootout wasn't the only major college game with more than 1,000 yards passing.

In Miami's 44-37 win over North Carolina State, Miami's Stephen Morris completed 26 of 49 passes for a school- and Atlantic Coast Conference-record 566 yards and five touchdowns and Mike Glennon completed 24 of 42 for 440 yards and four touchdowns for the Wolfpack.

Texas A&M has played just four games as a Southeastern Conference program and quarterback Johnny Manziel has played just four college football games period, and they already own the league's total offense record.

Manziel, a freshman, accounted for 557 yards — 453 passing with three touchdowns and 104 running with one touchdown — as the Aggies pounded Arkansas, 58-10.

That the teams combined for the most points in the 69 games they've played was of little consolation to Arkansas, which gave up 51 consecutive points after leading, 10-7, after the first quarter.

Quick hits

Middle Tennessee, an FCS team, defeated Georgia Tech, 49-28, handing the Yellow Jackets their second consecutive loss at home for the first time since 1988. . . . Army, which came in averaging a nation's-best 399 yards rushing, lost four fumbles and was held to 273 yards rushing by FCS-level Stony Brook in a 23-3 loss.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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