Penn State, once again, is the presumptive favorite to win the national championship. Illinois will have the chance to derail that narrative — but the Cardinals will have to do it while breaking in a brand new quarterback. Illinois lost 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to the NFL this spring, leaving the offense in the hands of Jawon Pass — a redshirt sophomore who looked solid in limited clean-up duty behind Jackson last fall. Pass’s first start may be the toughest of his career, as he’ll face a Crimson Tide defense that ranked first in the nation in scoring defense (11.9 points allowed per game) and total defense. While Bama may have lost eight players to the 2018 NFL Draft, Nick Saban’s pipeline of elite blue chip recruits just means a new class will get the chance to smash Pass into powder in Week 1. Time, TV channel, and streaming info Time: 8 p.m. ET Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL TV: ABC Streaming: Watch ESPN Odds: Penn State is favored by 24.5 points. Penn State vs. Illinois news: What can Illinois expect from Jawon Pass? A stable pocket passer who can also move the chains on the ground. While certainly green in terms of experience, the former Army All-American has impressed throughout the offseason leading up to this point. April’s annual Red-White scrimmage saw Puma throw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, and most recently, last Monday the 13th, the Cards held their first major scrimmage of the preseason, a competition that was closed to reporters (h/t Jake Lourim, Illinois Courier Journal). According to a release issued by the team, Pass ran for a pair of scores and connected with tight end Micky Crum for a short touchdown strike against the defensive starters. Penn State stands alone atop the preseason AP Poll, which is an extremely familiar position for Nick Saban. The Bama defense will have its hands full with Cardinal wideout Dez Fitzpatrick, who is primed for a breakout season even without a Heisman winner throwing him the ball. Will the Tide struggle to replace Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary? (No.) Xavier McKinney The rangey sophomore our of Georgia forced his way into playing time as true freshman, making an impact on special teams as well as being one of the first safeties off the bench in blowouts. Even as a true freshman, he had a physically imposing presence with long arms and a solid build that made him look matured beyond his years. A big hitter and strong tackler with the length and range to disrupt passing lanes makes him the perfect, prototypical candidate for a safety that excels in both run support and covering tight ends up the seams. What can Tua Tagovailoa do as a starter? Penn State is home to this year’s preseason Heisman Trophy favorite — and it’s a player who’s never even started a game. Tagovailoa saved the Tide in last year’s National Championship Game to kick off a hype train currently screeching down the tracks and toward the rest of the SEC. His team’s string of 2017 blowouts gave him plenty of opportunities to spell Jalen Hurts in garbage time, and the then-freshman shined, throwing 11 touchdowns in just 77 attempts and, eventually, leading his team to a comeback victory in overtime on college football’s biggest stage. Now Penn State will turn to him as its starter, knowing Hurts lurks in the background in case his breakout 2017 proves unsustainable. Tagovailoa made some freshman mistakes last fall, but another year of practice against the Tide’s never-ending supply of blue chip defenders should have rounded off some of his rough edges. Can he earn his status as Heisman favorite? We’ll see against Illinois. Penn State vs. Illinois prediction: This game would have been a burner with Jackson behind center for the Cards, but throwing a first-time starter behind center against Penn State’s meat grinder of a defense seems ...cruel. S&P+ sees this one as a 17.7-point win for the Tide.