Friday night did not quite go the way Lovie Smith had envisioned.

Illinois entered Friday’s B1G opener a heavy underdog to No. 14 Wisconsin, and it played out that way. Despite a defensive battle through the first 27 minutes of the game with the score at 14-7 with just over 3 minutes to play in the 1st half, the Badgers popped the lid off the game late in the second quarter.

Wisconsin scored twice in the final 3 minutes to bust a one-score game into a 21-point advantage heading into halftime. The Illini were never able to recover, falling 45-7 in Madison to open the year.

The story of the night was Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz, who completed 20-of-21 passes for 248 yards and 5 touchdowns, setting three new school records in his first start. Smith’s defense had no answer for the redshirt freshman.

Here’s what the Illinois head coach had to say following the 38-point loss to open the 2020 campaign: