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Charlotte Head Coach Will Healy celebrates with Cam Dollar during the 49ers' 42-39 win over Middle Tennessee. 

On Saturday, the Charlotte 49er football team looks to collect another win against a power-five program in Illinois. The team looks to push their winning streak while taking on a Fighting Illini squad that will try to get back on track. 

"I am proud of the way that this team has responded," said Healy. "The odds are stacked against us, but we are ready for the challenge."

The 49ers are coming off a 42-39 victory over the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State on Friday, Sept. 24, to stay undefeated at home. The Fighting Illini are looking to stop their four-game skid as they are coming off a 13-9 loss against the Boilermakers of Purdue. 

The road to the fourth win of the season for Charlotte will go through Champaign, Illinois. With Coach Healy ready to lead the program to new heights, the 49ers will have another chance to add to their 2021 resume. 

"This game is important for the growth of our football team," said Healy. "It's all about how to we execute and how well do we play. It's exciting to be able to have this test against a talented football team."

The Fighting Illini are looking to begin a new era with new Head Coach Bret Bielema. Since Illinois started with an impressive 30-22 victory against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the home opener, the team has lost four straight. The Fighting Illini will look to gain momentum against the 49ers this weekend. 


Fun Facts:

Charlotte has trailed in three out of their four games, winning two out of those three. 

The Niners have not skipped a beat on offense this season, averaging 30 points and 446.8 yards per game. 

Chris Reynolds is coming off being named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season, and Reynolds has received the honor three times in his illustrious career. 


Keys for a Charlotte Forty-Niner Win: 

The first key is to stop the run, which has plagued the 49ers all season long. The Fighting Illini come into the game third in the Big Ten in rushing offense, averaging 157 yards per game. Charlotte will have to improve from giving up an average of 230.3 rushing yards per game if the 49ers want to come out on top. However, Healy has faith in his defense to step up. 

"Have we've gotten better, and are we capable? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes," said Healy. 

The next is to push through under pressure. The 49ers look to prove that they can win on the road after a lowing score loss to Georgia State in inclement weather on Saturday, Sept. 18. Charlotte will travel to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, which holds 60,670 fans, a new test for the 49ers. They must stay cool, calm, and collected if they hope to come out on top.  

"We are also aware this is a different type of challenge, but we are excited about it," said Healy.  

Lastly, the team needs to keep rolling on offense, which has been vital in the 49ers' success all season long. Charlotte is coming off 559 yards and 42 points scored on offense in the last contest. When the 49ers have had adversity, they've leaned on the offense to respond. The offense will be the biggest key for a Charlotte win. 

Prediction: Charlotte wins by three

Expect Charlotte and Illinois to go back and forth in a high-octane matchup. The 49ers' passing game will keep them in the game, and it will result in victory. Senior kicker Jonathon Cruz will hit a field goal late to push the 49ers over the Fighting Illini 38-35. 

How to Watch: 

The game will get underway Saturday, Oct. 2, at noon in Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network, and you can also listen to the game on ESPN 730.


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