CHARLOTTESVILLE‒ This Saturday, September 11 the Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1) in Scott Stadium at 11:00 am. The Cavaliers will look for their second win of the season following a dominant 43-0 victory over William & Mary in their first game, while the Fighting Illini will look to bounce back from an upset 37-30 loss against the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The Cavaliers are hoping to ride the momentum they found in the second half of the William & Mary game to another victory against Illinois. Virginia’s offense looks primed for another big performance as Illinois let up 889 yards through their first two games. Bronco Mendenhall and the Hoos will be looking for another big performance from QB Brennan Armstrong (ACC QB of the week this past week) who tallied 339 passing yards on 68% completion along with two passing touchdowns and an additional two touchdowns on the ground.
The defense for Virginia against William & Mary in week one was stout, allowing the Tribe only 183 total yards, but Illinois’ offense will be a trickier opponent for the Cavaliers. The Fighting Illini averaged 369 total yards through their first two games for an average of 30 points per game. Freshman wide receiver Isaiah Williams will be a handful for the Virginia defense, coming off an 8 reception game for 101 yards and a touchdown against UTSA. The running back corps for Illinois is also an improvement from what the Cavaliers saw last week, with Senior Mike Epstein and Freshman Reggie Love III combining for 191 yards on the ground in Illinois’ first two games. To keep this Illinois offense in check, the Cavaliers will need big performances from star players like Senior Safety Joey Blount, Senior Linebacker Noah Taylor, and Senior Cornerback Nick Grant, all of whom played a pivotal role in the shutout performance against William & Mary.
This will be the first real test for the Cavaliers against a “Power Five” opponent. This is the first meeting between Virginia and Illinois since the Micron PC Bowl in 1999 in which Illinois came out on top 63-21. The Cavs hope for a different outcome this time around to continue their strong start to the season as they enter their in-conference games on September 18.