CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Chattanooga football comes to Champaign for the first Thursday night game under the lights in Memorial Stadium history and the Mocs (3-0) shouldn’t lack confidence. Chattanooga had a fourth quarter lead at Kentucky last season before ultimately falling to the Wildcats on their home field, 28-23. Fourteen starters are back from that team for the Mocs, who are ranked 9th in the latest FCS coaches poll.
This will be the second straight trip to Central Illinois in as many weeks for Chattanooga, who beat Eastern Illinois 38-20 in Charleston on Sept. 10. Illinois has never lost to an FCS opponent and Mocs head coach Rusty Wright knows his team is in for a challenge against the FBS Illini (2-1), who are looking to start the season with a unblemished mark in non-conference play for the first time since 2011.
“We’re going to have our hands full defensively no question about it and we’ve got to do a good job of just being where we’re supposed to be,” Wright said. “Their will be some bad matchups in our O-Line against their D-Line in some spots but it’s just a matter of still just being able to go out and execute and fight to get things done.”
Illinois won’t have running back Josh McCray for the game, with the sophomore still recovering from a knee injury in the season opener. Illini head coach Bret Bielema says outside linebacker Alec Bryant will be available to play though, after the Virginia Tech transfer missed the Virginia game with a concussion.
Kickoff is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.