Big Noon Live: Penn State taking on Illinois after Deion Sanders joins pregame party

It’s going to be a wild day of college football on Saturday, and it started early with the “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame show in Boulder, Colorado.

The two-hour show included a pregame party hosted by Rob Gronkowski, with appearances by Lil Wayne, Deion Sanders and more. It was a lot of fun, so scroll below to check out all the highlights.

Now the focus shifts East to Champaign, Illinois, where Bret Bielema’s Fighting Illini will play host to the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions in an early Big Ten showdown. 

Check out the action below with live analysis from Bryan Fischer!

Pregame notes

While all eyes are on Boulder for everything happening with Coach Prime and the Buffs, the Big Ten is taking center stage for Big Noon Saturday in what will be an early litmus test of whether No. 7 Penn State is truly a conference and national title contender befitting their ranking. Illinois has been subpar defensively to start the season, but there’s plenty of talent on Bret Bielema’s squad to make things interesting and possibly pull the upset like they did in the two teams’ last meeting back in 2021.

Here are a few pre-game thoughts before kickoff in Champaign:

— The Nittany Lions haven’t seen any dropoff at quarterback with former five-star Drew Allar taking over, ranking first in the Big Ten in points and yards per game so far this year. The sophomore has shown off his big arm during the team’s first two games with some impressive downfield throws and he’ll need to step up and make some more for the team’s league opener on the road. Allar has also taken care of the ball extremely well (zero career turnovers) and will need to keep that streak up if PSU wants to keep things rolling on his side of the ball.

— The most anticipated matchup in this one is undoubtedly the Illini’s interior DL duo of All-American Jer’Zhan Newton and All-Big Ten star Keith Randolph Jr. against one of the best running back tandems in the country with Penn State’s Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton. The latter pair is averaging over 150 yards of offense this year despite not playing much in the second half of the team’s recent wins and are as good a threat out of the backfield as they are running between the tackles. Seeing how Newton and Randolph can clog up the middle and disrupt running lanes will be key to Illinois keeping this one close.

— Illinois QB Luke Altmyer has been solid so far since transferring over from Ole Miss and gives the offense an added dimension with his legs coming into this one. He’ll likely need to pick up a few first downs while scrambling but has to take care of the ball better (three interceptions in two games). Top receiver Isaiah Williams has shown he can get free and make a big play on any drive, but it’s up to Altmyer to avoid negative plays and keep his eyes up to find the elusive wideout down the field.

— The Illinois defense had several misalignments last week against Kansas and enters this game last in the Big Ten in yards/play allowed. New DC Aaron Henry has to get the mental mistakes corrected and let the Illini play much freer than they have so far if they’re going to show some improvement where it’s needed most for the home side.

Pregame in Boulder

Finally, Coach Prime stopped by the set for a live interview. And if his comments are any indication, the Buffaloes will not be going easy on Colorado State tonight.

Deion Sanders discusses exceeding expectations, more!

Deion Sanders discusses exceeding expectations, more!

After lighting up the stage, Lil Tunechi got a special gift from Coach Prime.

Gronkowski worked up an appetite in Boulder.

The first Club Heisman of the season with Mark Ingram and Matt Leinart.

USC’s Caleb Williams and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders lead Club Heisman candidates | Big Noon Kickoff

USC's Caleb Williams and Colorado's Shedeur Sanders lead Club Heisman candidates | Big Noon Kickoff

Mark Ingram and Matt Leinart discussed Club Heisman candidates including Caleb Williams for the USC Trojans, Shedeur Sanders for the Colorado Buffaloes and Marvin Harrison Jr. from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Give Peggy her theme music!

Coach Meyer talks Shedeur Sanders and more…

Urban Meyer discusses how Colorado succeeds when plays break down | Big Noon Kickoff

Urban Meyer discusses how Colorado succeeds when plays break down | Big Noon Kickoff

Urban Meyers analyzed how the Colorado Buffaloes can succeed when plays break down. 

Rapper Lil Wayne is behind Coach Prime A Milli…

Lil’ Wayne joins to talk Colorado’s turnaround, Packers’ fanhood and more! | Big Noon Kickoff

Lil' Wayne joins to talk Colorado's turnaround, Packers' fanhood and more! | Big Noon Kickoff

Lil’ Wayne joined “Big Noon Kickoff” to talk about the Colorado Buffaloes’ turnaround this season, his support of the Green Bay Packers and more.

Cooper Manning officially declared his feud with 98-year-old Colorado super-fan Peggy.

FOX analyst Joel Klatt got in on the action from afar as he gears up for the Penn State-Illinois matchup.

Is Penn State’s Drew Allar the best quarterback in the Big Ten? | Big Noon Kickoff

Is Penn State's Drew Allar the best quarterback in the Big Ten? | Big Noon Kickoff

Joel Klatt discussed Penn State Nittany Lions’ quarterback Drew Allar and if he is the best quarterback in the Big Ten Conference.

Gronk got the crowd going this morning!

Things got underway early in Boulder, with a pre-dawn gathering.

The Illinois game could be the first real challenge for Penn State (2-0), and coach James Franklin knows Illinois fans will be ready, especially with the Illini promoting an “orange-out.”

“It should be a great atmosphere at Illinois, a great environment for college football,” he said this week. “We opened our Big Ten season last year at Purdue. There was a black-out there.”

The Nittany Lions have opened their season by beating West Virginia, 38-15, and Delaware, 63-7. Meanwhile, the Illini opened at home with a come-from-behind 30-28 win over Toledo, before stubbing their toes in a 34-23 defeat at Kansas in Week 2.

Here’s some of the pregame action ahead of that matchup:

Penn State HC James Franklin talks to Jenny Taft about his pregame expectations vs. Illinois | Big Noon Kickoff

Penn State HC James Franklin talks to Jenny Taft about his pregame expectations vs. Illinois | Big Noon Kickoff

Penn State Nittany Lions HC James Franklin talked to Jenny Taft about what he wants to see today from his team vs. the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica gives his ‘Best Bets’.

Penn State, Florida State, and Tennessee headline Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica’s ‘Best Bets’ | Big Noon Kickoff

Penn State, Florida State, and Tennessee headline Chris 'The Bear' Fallica's 'Best Bets' | Big Noon Kickoff

The Penn State Nittany Lions, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Tennessee Volunteers headlined Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica’s “Best Bets” for week three of the college football season.


  • 10 a.m.-Noon ET: “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame show on FOX
  • Noon ET: Penn State at Illinois on FOX and the FOX Sports app

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the Penn State-Illinois showdown. Check back Saturday for pregame coverage, followed by live in-game analysis from FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer!

Will Drew Allar lead Penn State to a win over Illinois?

Will Drew Allar lead Penn State to a win over Illinois?

No. 7 Penn State at Illinois


20-6: PSU’s all-time record against Illinois. The Nittany Lions have won the six of the last eight meetings.

78.2: Completion percentage for QB Drew Allar, which ranks sixth in the nation. He also sits 16th in passing efficiency (183.0) and 21st in yards per pass attempt (9.62).

9: Consecutive games PSU has scored at least 30 points — the nation’s longest streak.

6-of-17: Passing Delaware was held to last week by PSU; the seventh time PSU has held an opponent below 50% passing over the last two seasons, tied for most in the nation.

9th: Current Big Ten rank for Illinois in scoring (26.5 PPG), total offense (357.5 YPG) and passing (204.0). The Fighting Illini also sit at seventh in rushing (153.5).

164: Yards needed by QB Luke Altmyer to crack Illinois’ all-time top-10 list for rushing yards by a quarterback. Altmyer already has a team-best 139 rushing yards.

16-14: Final score for Illinois’ last win over Penn State in Champaign in 2014, when David Reisner’s 36-yard field goal with eight seconds left secured the W. 

3rd: Receiver Isaiah Williams‘ rank in the Big Ten in receptions per game (5.5). Williams is sixth in receiving yards (150).

[More numbers to know in Week 3 games]

Week 3 preview: Can Illinois upset Penn State?

Week 3 preview: Can Illinois upset Penn State?


Week 3 wagering: Chris “The Bear” Fallica shares his predictions from all the top games, including Penn State-Illinois. Read more.

The Prime Effect … on coaches: One interesting aspect of the instant success Deion Sanders has had at Colorado is the very real possibility that it could increase pressure on coaches — even established and successful coaches like James Franklin and Bert Bielema — to change the way they operate. Read more.

How Penn State prepared Drew Allar for this moment: Many observers think this is the best roster Penn State has had in the James Franklin era, but Franklin has gone to great lengths to make sure his young quarterback would be ready to lead it. Michael Cohen goes behind the scenes for the story. 

Heisman watch: Reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams of USC continues to be the favorite to win the prestigious award. But Allar is among those firmly in the mix. Check out our breakdown of the top 10 candidates.

Why Illinois has a chance: The Nittany Lions are big favorites vs. Illinois, but the Illini do have one top-notch NFL prospect who could wreak havoc — defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton. NFL Draft expert Rob Rang details why Newton could be a big problem for Penn State and also outlines other top prospects scouts will be watching in Week 3. Read more.

What our experts are looking for in the game: RJ Young, Michael Cohen and Bryan Fischer break down all the big games this week, including Penn State-Illinois. Read more.

Bonus reading!

“It’s hard to stop all of us”: Everyone knows about Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter, but Colorado has found success in large part due to the wealth of options it has compiled on offense. Read more.

Colorado will decide its ceiling: Some have doubted Deion Sanders’ methods at rebuilding Colorado, but it will ultimately be the Buffs who decide how high they can climb. RJ Young explains why.

What’s next for Texas? The Longhorns are flying high after their stunning victory at Alabama in Week 2, but coach Steve Sarkisian has bigger goals. “Championship teams continue to improve,” he said. Laken Litman has the story.

Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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