CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCIA) — Illinois football is hitting the road for the first time in the Bret Bielema era and the Illini certainly have a big challenge ahead of them. Virginia awaits on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. CT as the Illini look for their first non-conference road win against a Power 5 team since 2007.
The Illini (1-1) are looking to rebound after a disappointing 37-30 home loss to UTSA last Saturday. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers (1-0) beat William & Mary, an FCS school, 43-0 in their season opener. Illinois players say they’re ready to take their show on the road against a school in Virginia that has qualified for a bowl five straight seasons under head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“I wanna say there’s no changes, we want to go out there and play Illinois football,” Illinois junior tight end Daniel Barker said about playing away from Champaign. “It’s not about them, it’s about us, so we just got to go out there and play the football that we know.”
Sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski will start for Illinois. The Rutgers transfer started the season as Brandon Peters’ back-up but has taken over the offense after Peters went down in a shoulder injury in the opening quarter against Nebraska. Peters made the trip to Charlottesville but is a game time decision after getting back to practice this week.
“We’re ready to go, we’re ready to go it’s all about fighting adversity,” Sitkowski said. “Coach B(ielema) gets us ready, and we’ll keep going.”
Other notable injury updates including Chase Brown and Chase Hayden both returning to the field after missing last week’s game. Fellow running back Mike Epstein did not make the trip dealing with an unspecified injury. Defensive lineman Keith Randolph Jr. is also not available after hurting his leg in last week’s game, but it’s not expected to be a long term injury, according to Bielema.
The Illinois-Virginia game airs on ACC Network, here’s a guide as to how to watch: https://fightingillini.com/news/2021/9/7/how-to-watch-illini-football-on-acc-network.aspx