For a team struggling through its first two games, defeating Hawaii and Eastern Washington by only eight combined points, Washington found the perfect elixir on Saturday: Illinois.
The Huskies opened up an 18-point lead – ten points more than their previous victory margins combined – at the 10 minutes and 49 seconds into the game and cruised to a 44-19 victory Saturday afternoon in Seattle. Cyler Miles and Shaq Thompson will battle for game MVP honors; Miles completed 14-of-21 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown and added 45 rushing yards, while Thompson outscored Illinois by himself in the first half (14-12) after returning an interception and a fumble for a touchdown.
Washington led 35-5 after 20 minutes and took a 38-12 edge into the break. In a quiet second half, Illinois notched a 27-yard touchdown pass from Wes Lunt to Geronimo Allison in the third quarter, and Washington registered two Cameron Van Winkle field goals in the fourth quarter to put together our 44-19 final.
Lunt completed 17 of his 27 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns – six completions for 160 yards and both touchdowns to Allen, and 11 completions for 64 yards to his eight other receivers. The Illini managed only 78 rushing yards, while allowing the Huskies to grind out 235 yards on 59 attempts.
Unfortunately for them, there are no Big Ten teams remaining on Washington’s slate, as the Huskies (3-0) host Georgia State next week before opening Pac-12 play by hosting No. 15 Stanford on Sept. 27. Illinois (2-1) closes non-conference play with Texas State next week, and begins its Big Ten slate a week later at Nebraska.