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Illinois Snaps 5-Year Bowl Drought With Berth In Redbox Bowl

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Illinois linebacker Dele Harding finds the endzone after a 55-yard interception return in the Illini’s 38-10 win over Rutgers on November 2, 2019.

Illinois returns to a bowl game for the first time in five years when it faces California in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 30.

The Illini reeled off four straight wins after a 2-4 start, and the extra practices afforded by a rare bowl trip should only help coach Lovie Smith’s rebuilding efforts.

Cal used back-to-back road wins to close the regular season to earn a spot in a bowl game close to campus.

The Golden Bears ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in points allowed. 

California (7-5 Pac-12) vs. Illinois (6-6, Big Ten) , Dec. 30, 4 p.m. ET

LOCATION: Santa Clara, California.


Cal: RB Christopher Brown Jr., 794 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns.

Illinois: QB Brandon Peters, 1,611 yards passing, 17 touchdowns.


CaL: The Golden Bears won at Stanford and UCLA to clinch bowl eligibility and a winning season. But they also lost to Utah and USC by 59 combined points.

Illinois: The Illini stunned the Big Ten with a four-game winning streak in the middle of the season. But they’ll stumble to Santa Clara after Northwestern beat them 29-10 in the regular-season finale, the Wldcats’ only league win of the year.


Cal 35, Illinois 20 (Sept. 17, 2005)


Cal: Twenty-fourth bowl appearance in school history. The Bears are 11-11-1.

Illinois: First appearance in the Redbox Bowl. The Illini are 8-10 in bowl games.

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