Complete Illinois Fighting Illini Bowl Game History and Bowl Summaries

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Good morning college football and Illinois Fighting Illini fans. Another autumn Saturday is in the books and the season is just flying by. Last night saw Illinois go on the road, to Michigan State, and win their fourth straight game. They did it in extremely dramatic fashion, achieving the biggest comeback in school history (25 points).

Illinois is now bowl eligible, for the first time under Lovie Smith, and there are still two games left to play. This will be Illinois’ 19th bowl appearance, and they are 8-10 all-time. Let’s take a look at where we’ve been, so we can try to see where we’re going.

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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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Texas Forever! Illini vs. Baylor: Brutally Honest Bowl Game Preview

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Like they say in Dillon, deep in the heart of Texas, “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. CAN’T LOSE!”  Yes, the Illinois Fighting Illini best adopt the philosophy of fictional football Coach Erik Taylor and his East Dillon Lions in the dramatic television series “Friday Night Lights.”

The Illini have their work cut out for them, only 1.5 point underdogs, but they’re playing in enemy territory, taking on a school that’s fired up about their first bowl appearance in 17 years, at a stadium less than three hours drive from campus.

Indeed Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, won’t be the only NFL stadium where a local team in blue and orange is surrounded by an adversarial crowd in green and gold. Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, and college basketball’s next Final Four, will have a decidedly pro-Baylor slant when the Texas Bowl kicks off Wednesday night at 5.

“Texas forever, Street.”

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