Somewhere, Tim Beckman must be laughing.
In what was perhaps one of the strangest and event-filled weeks in the history of the Illinois football program, the Bill Cubit era finally was allowed to be ushered in, although even that was not easy.
In what was supposed to be the first Friday night game in school history, Mother Nature wreaked havoc with the scheduled debut, as strong storms blew through Champaign-Urbana about 30 minutes before the scheduled 8:12 pm kickoff.
Some speculated that it could have been a sign from Beckman, the former coach who was fired last Friday for findings in a yet to be released report, while others speculated that it was just the football gods stating their case that college football should not be played on Friday night, a day that competed with area high school football.
Whatever you choose to believe, the result was the same, having the game postponed until Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm. Since the postponement took place, there was no television for the contest, but it really didn't matter, as the Illini came out of the gate to dominate the Golden Flashes of Kent State, winning handily 52-3 before a very sparsely attended game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Illinois wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as Wes Lunt connected with tight end Tyler White on a 2 yard pass after forcing the Golden Flashes to punt the football. Lunt certainly wasn't done on the day, hitting Marchie Murdock for 34 yards the very next time the Illini got the ball back. Lunt then hit Josh Ferguson for 21 yards, then Ferguson ran the ball into the endzone from 11 yards out to give Illinois a 28-0 advantage after 1 quarter of play.
The second quarter began just as the first one ended, as Lunt went deep once again, this time working with Geronimo Allison for 34 yards, and following a 43 yard field goal from Taylor Zalewski, the Illini held a 38-0 lead at the half, and coasted from that point on. Lunt went back out for the first series of the third quarter, and gave the reins to redshirt freshman Chayce Crouch, who took control from there. Crouch added a touchdown pass of his own to freshman Sam Mays, and another true freshman, Ke'Shawn Vaughn scored from 1 yard out as well. The lone points for Kent State came via a 43 yard field goal from Shane Hynes. All told, the Illini had 73 players see action on the field on the day, giving some of the younger players a chance to see some game action. Illinois, who trailed in practically every game last season, did not have that luxury last season.
So, what can be taken from this lopsided victory? We know that Wes Lunt is a good quarterback and he showed that against Kent State, completing 11 of 16 passes for 162 yards and the four touchdowns. We also know that the offensive and defensive lines are as strong as they have been in the past three seasons. We also are aware that Kent State is not a very good football team, and the Illini may not get a stern test this coming week either, when they welcome the Western Illinois Leathernecks to Memorial Stadium (11:00 am CT, BTN). Western Illinois defeated Eastern Illinois 33-5 last Thursday night, and according to Illini interim head coach Bill Cubit, the Leathernecks have one of the best front lines of anyone in the FCS division. Given the week that the Illini had leading up to the first game of the season, a normal week is all that Cubit and his players can ask for at this point.
The #6 ranked Illinois womens' volleyball team ventured out west for the Big 10/Pac 12 Challenge this past weekend, and came away with a split, losing to #2 Stanford 3-1, then turning around and defeating #21 Colorado 3-0. The Illini are currently 4-1 on the young season, and will continue their lengthy road trip this weekend when they travel to Wichita, Kansas, where they will battle Kentucky, South Dakota State, and the host Shockers of Wichita State. Match times for the weekend are Friday at 1:00 pm CT (Kentucky), and a pair of matches on Saturday at 11:00 am CT (South Dakota State) and 8:00 pm CT (Wichita State).
Illini womens' soccer is also off to a strong start, led by their marquee player, Janelle Flaws, who continues to score goals each weekend it seems. This past Friday night, the Illini suffered their first defeat of the season losing 2-1 to the host Washington Huskies in the Huskie Nike Invitational in Seattle, Washington. Kara Marbury scored the lone goal for the Illini, while Flaws assisted on the carom. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the Illini defeated the Portland Pilots 1-0, as Flaws scored the only goal of the match in the 81st minute on a penalty kick. The goal was Flaws' 8th of the season. This coming weekend, the Illini will wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule when they welcome Northern Kentucky to the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Friday evening (7:00 pm CT). Illinois is currently 5-1 on the season.
I'm ready for a normal week of Illinois coverage.