CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football has never lost to an FCS opponent sporting a 17-0 record but the Illini don’t have to look far to be reminded, upsets happen all the time. Southern Illinois knocked off Northwestern in Evanston over the weekend, while Missouri State gave No. 10 Arkansas everything it could handle in Fayetteville. So while the odds are against the ninth-ranked Mocs (3-0) in this week’s FCS coaches poll, the Illini (2-1) know they still have to show up and play well to leave Memorial Stadium with a win Thursday night.
“It proves that anybody can be beat on any given day so you’ve got to come out there and be the best that you can be and capitalize on those days,” Illinois linebacker Tarique Barnes said when asked about SIU beating Northwestern.
“There’s something wrong if you don’t get up and get ready and get focused to play,” Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. said. “We have a great deal of respect for Chattanooga. It’s the way college football is; any given Saturday you don’t know what’s going to happen so you better bring your best and we certainly want to do that on this Thursday.”
Illinois is looking to finish its non-conference portion of the schedule without a loss since 2011. That was also the last time the Illini beat a Power 5 non-conference opponent, after taking down Virginia Sept. 10. Kickoff between the Illini and Mocs is set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.