Mocs shut out by Illinois in first loss of season

AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast / UTC quarterback Preston Hutchinson is sacked by Seth Coleman, right, and Jer'Zhan Newton during Thursday night's game at Illinois.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright knew his football team was going to be up against its toughest obstacle of the season, by far, Thursday night when the Mocs visited Big Ten member Illinois.

As part of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Fighting Illini have 22 more scholarships to play with as it is, which is why it's rare for Football Championship Subdivision teams such as UTC to win these games. But Illinois was also coming off an open date and was well rested, while the Mocs had just played five days earlier, defeating North Alabama to reach 3-0.

If that wasn't enough, the Illini had essentially been warned against looking too far ahead when fellow Big Ten program Northwestern lost to FCS opponent Southern Illinois last week.

The Illini played like an inspired team, while the Mocs — ranked ninth by FCS coaches and 10th in the Stats Perform Top 25 — were seemingly shell-shocked from the start, giving up 334 yards of total offense in the first half and never recovering in a 31-0 loss in Champaign.