It’s bowl week, prime time for college football and the Illinois Fighting Illini are taking part this year. The fifth installment of the Texas Bowl is tomorrow night. The bowl has been affiliated with the Big 12 Conference since its inception in 2006, and 2010 is the first time it pairs teams from the Big 12 and the Big Ten. The Texas Bowl holds the fifth choice among both Big Ten and Big 12 bowls, after the BCS bowls are announced.
Previous Results of the Texas Bowl
2006 – Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10
2007 – TCU 20, Houston 13
2008 – Rice 38, Western Michigan 14
2009 – Navy 35, Missouri 13
By Paul M. Banks
This will be Illinois’ 16th bowl appearance, where they are 6-9 all-time when playing in bowl games. Illinois’ coaching staff has a combined 55 games of bowl experience as coaches and nine games as players. The Big Ten has had to play 16 bowl games in the state of their opponent since 2005. That’s more than double that of any other conference, and extremely unfair.
The 2010 Texas Bowl marks Illinois’ eighth December bowl game and first since the 1999 MicronPC.com Bowl on Dec. 30, 1999. It also marks the first non-BCS bowl appearance for the Fighting Illini since 1999 as their last two bowl games have been the 2002 Sugar Bowl and the 2008 Rose Bowl.
This time Illinois will certainly be toughened up, as they faced the 14th-toughest schedule in the nation according to the official NCAA schedule strength rankings. This year’s opponents have a combined record of 81-50 this season vs. Division I opponents (not counting contest vs. Illini). Eight of Illinois’ opponents are bowl bound.
Take a look at Illinois’ bowl history:
1947 Rose Bowl UCLA W, 45-14: The first bowl game on national television, according to the history books.
1952 Rose Bowl Stanford W, 40-7:
1964 Rose Bowl Washington W, 17-7: I refrained from commenting too much on these games because they happened decades before I was born.
1982 Liberty Bowl Alabama L, 15-21: Legendary coach of legendary coaches Bear Bryant’s last game! He forever lives on in houndstooth.
1984 Rose Bowl UCLA L, 9-45: Literally my first sports memory. I can’t recall watching any game before this. I was 5, so I cried my eyes out. My sister was a freshman at UI got to see the massacre in person. You’ve heard the infamous stories about this game- Hef (an Illini alum) had the team over at the Playboy Mansion on New Year’s Eve, and they spent the night before the big game……well, you see where this is going.
1985 Peach Bowl Army L, 29-31: Jack Trudeau! legend of Tecmo Bowl lives here.
1988 All-American Bowl Florida L, 10-14: Don’t remember much of this game. But my sister did once tell me she got a ride home from Jeff George on his motorcycle once.
1990 Citrus Bowl Virginia W, 31-21: Jeff George, king of petulance and whiny entitlement cemented his status as a #1 overall NFL Draft pick with his 300+ yard, 3 TD performance. It’s a shame he was such a bust in the NFL. But at least he’ll always have his sweet Jeff Kent level pornstache.
1991 Hall of Fame Clemson L, 0-30: This Big Ten-ACC Challenge didn’t go so well.
1991 John Hancock Bowl UCLA L, 3-6: YAWN! Should have been a shoot-out, with Tommy Maddox vs. Jason Verduzco, two prolific passers. Instead it was one of the most boring games in history.
1992 Holiday Bowl Hawaii L, 17-27: The Rainbow Warriors mainland bowl debut was celebratory; at the expense of the Illini.
1994 Liberty Bowl East Carolina W, 30-0: Fun-filled way to rock in the New Year! Johnny Johnson had 250 yards passing in three quarters.
1999 MicronPC.com Bowl Virginia W, 63-21: Illinois owns another blue/orange team, UVA in bowl games. Kurt Kittner had an end-around reverse pass TD catch from Brandon Lloyd, highlighting 28 point outburst of second quarter. Ron Turner must have taken the Y2K end-of-the-world fears seriously, given the way he called plays and ran up the score. My senior year in Champaign, I covered this game for the school paper and ushered in the millenium in Miami. Team set a school record for points as the Illini fight song was more over-played in 1999 than “Livin la Vida Loca!”
2002 Sugar Bowl LSU L, 34-47: I really thought Illinois had a great chance in this game. Especially since LSU had to start second stringers at numerous skill positions. But Josh Reed made the Illini secondary his cell mate. Halftime score was 34-7 LSU.
2008 Rose Bowl USC L, 17-49: I knew Illinois had no chance at all in this game. Yet, they were a couple momentum swing plays away from taking the lead in the second. Then the Trojans just blew them to smithereens.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular weekly segment on chicagolandsportsradio.comFollow paulmbanks