Illinois Opens Smith Era With 52-3 Win Over Murray State

September 03, 2016
 
Illinois head coach Lovie Smith, center, sings the alma mater with the team after Illinois defeated Murray State 52-3 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith, center, sings the alma mater with the team after Illinois defeated Murray State 52-3 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Bradley Leeb/Associated Press

Wes Lunt threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns and Kendrick Foster ran for a pair of 56-yard touchdowns to give new Illinois coach Lovie Smith his first win, 52-3 over Murray State. The Illini (1-0) opened up a 35-3 halftime lead over the Racers and were never threatened by the Football Championship Subdivision school.

Ahead of his first game at Illinois, Smith preached defense and takeaways, just as he did in a long career as an NFL head coach. On Saturday, the Illini heeded his words early and took control of the game. 

A pair of first quarter interceptions off quarterback KD Humphries led to two touchdown passes from Lunt and a quick 14-0 lead.

Illinois sacked Murray State (0-1) quarterbacks Humphries and Cameron Birse six times and held the Racers to 165 total yards. With -10 rushing yards on 26 carries, Murray State's run game was all but invisible.

Up next - Illinois faces a tough test and its first Top 25 opponent of the season when North Carolina visits Champaign on Saturday. The Tar Heels handled the Illini last season in Chapel Hill, 48-14.  

Story source: AP