Good morning college football and Illinois Fighting Illini fans. Just four more days until the Reliaquest Bowl kicks off in Tampa! This will be Illinois’ 20th bowl appearance, and they are 8-11 in their previous 19 postseason games.
We’ll run all this down for you, in two parts, starting with the minor bowls, which we defined as non-traditionally on New Year’s Day and/or non-New Year’s 6 games (Link to that here). The second part, covering bowl games that do meet this definition, can be found here.
Reliaquest Bowl Illinois vs #22 Mississippi St. FYIs
Kickoff: Jan. 2, noon ET, ESPN2
Early Game Preview/Matchup Analysis: go here
Opt-out Tracker and Analysis: go here
Spread: MSU -1.5 -110 Money Line, O/U 45.5 Illini -105 ML
Illini Bowl Game History: Minor Bowls Major Bowls
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.
1984 Rose Bowl, UCLA, L, 45-9
Literally my first sports memory; can’t recall watching any game of any sort, live or in first person, prior to this. My sister, then a freshman at U of I, got to see this massacre in person.
You see that lopsided score and wonder what happened? UCLA Entered the game 6-4-1 and unranked while Illinois was 10-1 and #4 in the nation. It was the first time that an unranked team defeated a top five team in a bowl game!
So now you’re REALLY wondering how did this upset happen?
Big Ten teams last NY6 bowl win: pic.twitter.com/hVFnRNozpI
— SpartanWire (@SpartanWire) December 31, 2022
You’ve heard the infamous stories about this game- Hugh Hefner, or “Hef” (an Illini alum) supposedly had the team over at the Playboy Mansion on New Year’s Eve, and they spent the night, well, we’ve covered the rumors and urban legend in detail at this link.
And then we covered this narrative again, in even more detail in a podcast at this link.
1990 Citrus Bowl, Virginia, W, 31-21
Jeff George, who never came even remotely close to living up to his status as a #1 overall NFL Draft pick, dominated in this one, with a 300+ yard, 3 TD performance.
1991 Hall of Fame Bowl, Clemson, L, 30-0
This Big Ten-ACC Challenge didn’t go so well.
2002 Sugar Bowl, LSU, L, 47-34
I really thought Illinois had a great chance in this game. Especially since LSU had to start second stringers at numerous skill positions.
However, LSU WR Josh Reed took complete 100% ownership of the Illini defense.
Halftime score was 34-7 LSU, and that’s indicative of how this game actually went.
The final score is very misleading.
2008 Rose Bowl, USC, L, 49-17
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 half….and…no, no, they weren’t. You can’t put lipstick on this pig, as they just plain didn’t belong here.
And thus the Trojans blew them out of the water.
Fun fact: Illinois and Iowa ended the BCS era with the same number of appearances: 2.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
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