UCLA vs. Illinois: Brutally Honest Fight Hunger Bowl Preview


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 Leading Rusher to Miss Bowl Game


Illinois football announced today that senior running back Jason Ford and redshirt freshman wide receiver Jake Kumerow are academically ineligible under NCAA rules and will not participate in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl versus UCLA on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco.

Ford is the Illini leading rusher this year with 600 yards on 155 carries (3.9 ypc) and seven touchdowns. He finishes his career 1,962 career rushing yards, which ranks 16th on the all-time Illinois rushing list, and 26 career rushing touchdowns, second in Illinois history behind only Howard Griffith (31).

This really isn’t that big of a loss for Illinois though. In fact, no Ford could be addition by subtraction.

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Illini in San Francisco Bowl vs. UCLA Bruins


The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will be at 2:30 pm CT on Dec. 31 on ESPN.The destination- picturesque AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants of MLB.

They will face a 6-7 UCLA team. That’s four bowls in a row the Illini have faced an opponent in their home state. (Baylor in the Texas Bowl last year, USC in the Rose Bowl ’07, LSU in the Sugar Bowl ’01).

Illinois has faced UCLA in bowls on four previous occasions- winning the first two. But later losing the 1984 Rose Bowl 45-9, and the extremely exciting 1991 John Hancock Bowl 6-3.

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