WESTERN ILLINOIS GAME PROMOTIONS
• WHITE OUT – Fans should wear WHITE to the game
• Grange Grove – Opens at 7 am (Interactive games, food trucks and music starts at approximately 8 am)
• Illini Walk – 8:30 am through Grange Grove
• Kicking Off: Coming off a resounding 52-3 season-opening win over Kent State, the Fighting Illini look to begin the season 2-0 for the third straight season when Western Illinois (1-0) comes to Memorial Stadium Saturday (11 am CT on Big Ten Network).
• Fast Start: The Fighting Illini couldn’t have scripted a better start to Saturday’s opener, jumping out to a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The defense forced three turnovers and four three-and-outs in the first 15 minutes of 2015. Kent State’s seven first-quarter drives netted a total of -14 yards. Offensively, the Illini’s four first quarter TD drives totaled only 10 plays, including two one-play TD drives.
• Quick Strike Three of Illinois’ first half scoring drives against Kent State consisted on just one play. Last season, Illinois had a total of two single-play scoring drives in 13 games.
• Pulling Away: The 49-point margin of victory over Kent State is the largest for Illinois since beating South Dakota State 56-3 on Sept. 10, 2011.
• After Saturday’s win, Illinois has won…
…5 straight season-openers (last loss 2010 vs. Missouri)
…10 straight season-openers at Memorial Stadium (last loss 1997 vs. Southern Mississippi)
…18 straight home-openers (last loss 1997 vs. Southern Mississippi)
• Starting Off Right: The Illini’s 18 consecutive wins in home-openers (first home game of the season), is the fifth-longest active streak in FBS behind only Florida (26), Tennessee (21), Oklahoma State (19) and Wisconsin (19). Illinois is 88-33-5 all-time in home-openers.The Illini have an all-time record of 79-42-5 in season-openers and are 56-27-4 when opening the season at home.
• Dominating FCS Foes: The Fighting Illini are 14-0 all-time against FCS opponents (formerly I-AA). Illinois is averaging over 42 points per game against FCS foes with an average margin of victory of 28 points per game. See page 2 for a full list of Illinois FCS results.
• Our State: Illinois is 14-0 all-time against the other public universities in the state. The Illini are 4-0 against both Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois, 3-0 against Illinois State, 2-0 against Eastern Illinois and 1-0 against Western Illinois. The combined score of those meetings is 553-224 in favor of the Illini.
• Making Them Pay: The Fighting Illini converted all four Kent State turnovers into touchdowns on Saturday. In all of 2014 (13 games), the Illini scored nine touchdowns off of 19 opponent turnovers. Conversely, the Illini defense stopped the Golden Flashed after the lone Illinois turnover, allowing no points.
• Senior LB Mason Monheim has 298 career tackles, the second-most among active FBS players. The Butkus and Lombardi Award candidate piled up a career-high 111 tackles in 2014, and has forced seven career fumbles, tied for fourth most in Illinois history and the third-most among active FBS players.
• Senior RB Josh Ferguson is one of only three active FBS players with more than 1,500 career rushing yards (1,954) and 1,000 receiving yards (1,248). Arizona State’s D.J. Foster and Oregon’s Byron Marshall are the other two. A Doak Walker Award candidate, Ferguson ranks fifth on the Illinois career all-purpose yards (3,583) list with a realistic chance to break Robert Holcombe’s all-time UI mark of 4,737.
• Ferguson needs 46 yards to reach 2,000 career rushing yards. He currently ranks 18th on the UI all-time list, with the potential to jump into the top three with a big season.
• Senior DB/RET V’Angelo Bentley needs 116 kick return yards to break Pierre Thomas’ UI career record of 1,495 yards. Bentley currently ranks third on the list. The Paul Hornung Award (most versatile) candidate is the first Illinois player in school history to record kick, punt, interception and fumble returns for TD in his career.
• After breaking the UI single-season QB efficiency record in 2014 (141.61), junior QB Wes Lunt picked up where he left off. Lunt tied his career-high with four touchdown passes against Kent State (all in the first half), spreading the ball around to 8 different receivers in his 11-of-19, 162-yard, 4 TD, 0 INT performance. Lunt has now tossed 18 touchdowns against just three interceptions in his UI career.
• First Win for Cubit:Saturday’s game marked the first win for Bill Cubit as head coach of the Fighting Illini. The third-year offensive coordinator was named head coach on Aug. 28 after the dismissal of Tim Beckman. Cubit spent eight years as head coach at Western Michigan before coming to Illinois in 2013 and has a career head coaching record of 86-65-1.
• Saturday will be the second meeting between the Fighting Illini and Western Illinois. In 2007, the Juice Williams-led Illini shutout the Leathernecks 21-0 at Memorial Stadium. Illinois went on to play in the Rose Bowl later that season.
• WIU is 1-0 on the season after a 33-5 home win over Eastern Illinois last weekend.
ILLINOIS AGAINST FCS/I-AA TEAMS
The Fighting Illini are 14-0 all-time against FCS opponents (formerly I-AA). Illinois is averaging over 42 points per game against FCS foes with an average margin of victory of nearly 28 points per game. All but three of those wins have been by at least 21 points.