The headquarters of the match | Illinois 23, Chattanooga 0; 5:52 left second quarter | Sports

The headquarters of the match |  Illinois 23, Chattanooga 0;  5:52 left second quarter |  Sports

Join Beat writer Scott Richey overnight from Memorial Stadium as Illinois faces Chattanooga:


This is also what I’m looking for tonight between Illinois and Chattanooga. Some notes when the match kicks off about 35 minutes away at Memorial Stadium:

– Illinois has never lost to an FCS opponent. This is the kind of story Eleni doesn’t want to make.

A win in Illinois would mean Illini’s first unbeaten run since 2011. Then he was part of a 6-0 start that quickly turned into a 6-6 regular season. Now it would also mean hitting the halftime mark to qualify for the pot.

Bowl game predictions After last week’s games (Illinois, of course, didn’t exist) Illini had either a Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix or a Pinstripe Bowl in New York. For destinations in late December, Phoenix gives me 100 times out of 100.

– Key to Illinois tonight? Don’t turn around four or five times. Eleni coughed four times against Virginia and five times in Indiana, after Brian Hightor’s last cross passed against the Hoosiers. Official NCAA stats don’t count Hightower’s stumble, but play by play from that game shows confusion and recovery by Indiana even if the clock is at 12:00 AM.

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Jamal Woods (knee) and Alec Bryant (concussion) get dressed tonight after he missed the game in Virginia. They guarantee the necessary depth in the defensive line or with the outside back. Bryant’s return is likely to be even more significant given that Ezekiel Holmes is out of the season with a right knee injury. Holmes in the field, but with a brace and on crutches. Hopefully someone at the Smith Center directed him into the elevator as he walked up the stairs from the weight room earlier this week.


An hour-long warning cannon blasted off at Memorial Stadium. This is the first reminder to the fans to go to the stadium for the match. Not sure what it’s going to be at 7:30pm which means there’s a nice crowd at the back door in the late afternoon because most people are still at work.

The crowd is the thing that interests me in tonight’s game. Nearly 10,000 free tickets were distributed to Illinois students, so in theory the North End would be full, as would a portion of the East Stands. We’ll see how crowded this place is. I’m not expecting much from the crowd because it’s Thursday night and an FCS opponent.

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Illinois legend Dick Botkos is in town for tonight’s game. His first interaction with the Illini players was as good as you would have hoped.


Could there be a ‘must win’ match at the end of September? Believes. Especially if you’re playing against an FCS opponent, and you’ve never lost to an FCS opponent and can get halfway with a win.

At least, Illinois’ Thursday night game with Chattanooga falls into the “can’t lose” zone. Of course, what makes it even more interesting is that it is not an ordinary FCS program. The Mocs are ranked ninth nationally at their level, have a defense that has wreaked havoc on back opponents in three games, and pride themselves on running that’s hard to suppress.

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Not a bad test for Illini to complete the game outside of the conference. A win over Chattanooga would give Illinois its first unbeaten roster of non-Major Ten games since 2011 and also its best start to the season since that year. That was, of course, a disaster for a season of six wins, then six defeats, then a coach sent off.

Of course, the key element to watch in this game is whether or not the Illinois defense admits to landing ground. Illini only allowed three field goals at home. Two to Wyoming in the season opener and a third to Virginia the last time. The front row defense worked to return to the field at the end of the Virginia game, with the Cavaliers threatening at the goal line. This drop-free streak on attacking opposition is something Illinois values.

Scott Ritchie is a reporter covering college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).


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