Illini Win Bowl Games in Back to Back Years- 1st Time in School History

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For the second year in a row, the Illini found themselves with a college basketball game scheduled at the exact same time as a college football game. Their bowl selection led to the scheduling conflict.

Last year, they won both as the football team crushed Robert Griffin III’s Baylor Bears in the Texas Bowl while the hoopsters beat the Iowa Hawkeyes handily.

This year Illinois football beat UCLA 20-13 in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl while the cagers went to Purdue and…let’s not talk about that one.

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Illinois Linebacker to Play in Bowl Game Just 6 Weeks After Getting Shot!

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This has got to be one of the most inspiring stories of the college football bowl season. This is more than a comeback. University of Illinois senior linebacker Trulon Henry was injured in a off-campus shooting November 13th. Henry, a two-year starter for the Illini (he moved from safety to linebacker this year) was shot in the hand and underwent surgery.

He missed the final two games of the season, both losses, to the Gophers and Badgers.

Henry, who was not originally at the party where the shooting occurred, was called by a teammate to help encourage players at the party to leave. Unfortunately, Henry was one of the three people shot at the gathering. The bullet exited through his forearm, and he suffered a broken bone.

But he’s going to suit up on New Year’s Eve versus UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

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UCLA vs. Illinois: Brutally Honest Fight Hunger Bowl Preview

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Ever since the bowl matchups were announced, everyone has picked on the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl for being the the worst matchup of them all. The New Year’s Eve game features not one but both teams playing under interim coaches because the regular head coach was recently canned.

And both teams made dubious “history” on the way here. Illinois comes in riding a six-game losing streak, after starting 6-0. Before the 2011 Illini, no team in FBS history had started 6-0 and finished 6-6. Their opponent is 6-7 UCLA, who required an NCAA waiver to compete in this game despite a losing record. So these traditional college basketball powers play in a college football game with a combined 12-13 record. Ack.

On top of that, UCLA has four players ineligible for the game, including backup quarterback Richard Brehaut. Illinois has two ineligible, including leading rusher Jason Ford.

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Illini Bowl History: Mixed Results, Lots of UCLA for some Reason

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This year marks Illinois’ 17th bowl appearance, where they are 7-9 all-time. 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. And that number will increase by five this holiday season.

By appearing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco versus UCLA, the Illini are facing a bowl opponent in their home state for the 4th consecutive time. For some reason, they’ve drawn UCLA in 4/17 appearances, nearly one quarter. In this match-up of two traditional college basketball powers, the Bruins hold a 3-1 advantage over Illinois.

Let’s take a look at Illinois’ bowl history:

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Link Bank 12-6-11: Britney Spears, Erin Andrews, WORST Bowl Game

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Feel old? You will now: Britney Spears turned 30 yesterday. (Popwatch) I remember back in junior year of college when she burst onto the scene as Little Ms. Jailbait. And some dude in the school paper wrote an op-ed saying something to the extent of “Spears is making Lolita Complexes fashionable right now, but chill out. By the time she’s 25, she’ll be a really fat, divorced single mom.” (It wasn’t me- I swear!)

Damn, he nailed that one. The only part he didn’t prophesize was her second divorce and comeback/weight loss.

-The Erin Andrews peephole video saga is very far from over

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Ron Zook Fired! Illini A.D. Addresses Media (Video)

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You look at the pic above and think “what does a celebration from the Illinois Fighting Illini 2004-05 college basketball season have to do with this?” The long overdue firing of the school’s college football coach Ron Zook.

Well, when I searched for google images of “Illini celebration,” it was all hoops images. (which says something about why the Zooker is being jettisoned. And, I needed an orange and blue celebration pic for a news like this.

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Which Illini Coordinator Gets Ron Zook’s (Interim) Job?

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In 2009, a very underachieving Illini football team finished 3-9. Picked as high as third by some Big Ten and college football pundits, the horrible record was nothing short of a catastrophe for the resume of Ron Zook and the Illinois program.

Or so I thought.

Logic dictated then Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther can Zook then and there. Unfortunately, Guenther had FOOLISHLY given Zook a big, expensive contract extension before that season, and buying him out would have been just about financially impossible.

So what did Guenther/Illinois do? They doubled down on a losing hand. Sort of.

They brought in two flashy, expensive coordinators to take as much responsibility off of Zook’s plate as possible. Vic Koenning for the defense, Paul Petrino for the offense.

So which one gets the gig now?

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5 Biggest Reasons Illinois Should Fire Ron Zook Next Sunday

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The main story surrounding the Illinois Fighting Illini losing 28-17 to the Wisconsin Badgers today is the fact that Illini Head Coach Ron Zook is a “dead man walking.”

New Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas said he won’t make a decision until after the season is over, so I wouldn’t expect to hear anything concrete until after the season’s final game- next Saturday at the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Sure, there might be a bowl game, but the axe could fall on Zook’s head a week from Sunday.

The Illini blew a 10-point second half lead to Wisconsin, as the Badgers had TD drives of 2, 30, 44, and 39 yards. No, that’s not a typo, it’s an indication of how POOR the Illini special teams are. And how their offense keeps turning it over, but that’s another story for another time.

For now, I’ll list (in no particular order) the top 5 fireable qualities in Ron Zook WITHOUT mentioning his 34-50, 18-37 in the Big Ten record while at Illinois. That’s obviously reason #1; the W-L record speaks for itself.

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Bowl Attendance is Actually Up 4% This Season

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Despite an economic climate that’s a bears a haunting and striking resemblance to the 1930s, people are opening their wallets to travel to the bowl bliss of college football.

Yes, it seems like there are way too many bowl games, yes many of them have ridiculous sounding and horribly corporate names, but people are still coming. And after all, who really wants less football? Who would want less football to choose from?

Entering Thursday, the Texas Bowl, won 38-14 by the Illinois Fighting Illini had the highest attendance of the season at 68,112.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Bowl Game History and Bowl Summaries

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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

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Picks for Every Single College Football Bowl Game!

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TSB’s leading resident college football and college basketball nerds pick each and every game; often in very snarky fashion. DK=David Kay, PMB= Paul M. Banks

Dec. 18 New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP, 2 p.m., ESPN

(DK) BYU.  The only bowl game in which neither team has a winning record.  What a way to start the bowl season!  I got the Mormons.

(PMB) BYU. It’s a good thing Brigham Young has about 20,000,000 descendants, because I can’t imagine anyone not related to him having even the most remote interest in this game. I’m picking the followers of Joseph Smith as well.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
(DK) Northern Illinois.  Hey, I actually know something about Northern Illinois.  Their head coach left for Minnesota and they hired Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren to be their new head man.  He is staying with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl though.  What does that mean for the actually game?  No idea.

(PMB) NIU. This is a very underrated game; and too good to be this early in the cycle. Huskies’ Chad Spann continues legacy of Northern Illinois rushers: Michael “the Burner” Turner, LeShon Johson, Garrett Wolfe etc.

R&L Carriers Bowl: Ohio vs. Troy, 9 p.m., ESPN
(DK) Ohio.  It’s the fourth best team from the MAC taking on a team from the Sun Belt Conference!  Ratings Monster!

(PMB) Ohio. Only because they had a mascot that stalks, plots and attacks other mascots in cold blood. As for the game- YAWN!

Dec. 21
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville, 8 p.m., ESPN

(DK) Southern Mississippi.  Brett Favre went to Southern Miss so obviously I am picking them.

(PMB) SMU. Reading the full name and match-up for this bowl game is the second most redneck thing I’ve ever done in my life. The first is spending last Christmas in a rural VA triple wide; with spotty cell phone service, no internet and three whole channels. Yes, you can’t pick your family. But you sure can pick (or more importantly not pick) your in-laws.

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Ron Zook Delivers Jim Mora Style Mini-Rant (Video)

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Last week the Illini football team imploded and lost at home to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, one of the worst teams in recent Big Ten football history.

Words can’t really express a college football let-down of this proportion, although we tried to do so here.

Now a really promising 5-3 team that many pundits believed would finish 8-4 or even 9-3 doesn’t even look like a bowl team. Yes, they could very easily not get that critical sixth win to earn a postseason game and 15 extra practices.

A question from a reporter about the “b word” prompted Illini Head Coach Ron Zook to deliver this Jim Moraesque “PLAYOFFS???!!! YOU’RE TALKING PLAYOFFS?!” rant.

Thanks to The Last Angry Fan for the photo.

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