Illini comfortable with underdog role against Penn State -

Illini comfortable with underdog role against Penn State

CHAMPAIGN -- The oddsmakers don't seem to think Illinois' Big Ten opener Saturday at Penn State will be a close game.

The 12th-ranked Nittany Lions are two-touchdown favorites against the 22nd-ranked Illini.

But Illinois players and coach Ron Zook seem comfortable in the underdog role.

Quarterback Juice Williams makes it sound almost like relief. He says there's no pressure on the underdog. And with no big expectations, he says the team can just go out and play.

The Illini came into the season with big expectations after last year's Rose Bowl berth.

They've won two of their three games. But the wins have been over Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette -- teams Illinois is expected to handle with ease.

And Zook says the 4-and-0 Penn State is a better team than the on Illinois knocked off in Champaign last year.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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