Illini get set for Rose Bowl kickoff

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Happy New Year Illini fans! Kickoff to the 94th Rose Bowl Game is just under an hour away.

Illinois’ triple threat spread offense led by sophomore quarterback Juice Williams and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Rashard Mendenhall will go up against the nation’s second ranked defense that features Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Sedrick Ellis in search of its first Rose Bowl win since 1964 and a potential top-10 finish.

The Illini will be playing it their first Rose Bowl in 24 years and are hoping to replace the images of the program’s last trip to the “Granddaddy of Them All,” a 45-9 trouncing by UCLA in 1984.

Illinois enters the game a two touchdown underdog and many so-called experts aren’t giving the Illini a chance against the Trojans. But in the season of the upset, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see the Illini hoisting the Rose Bowl trophy by today’s end.

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit probably said it best in his thoughts on the game

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“The first quarter will be the most important for Illinois,” Herbsteit said. “I would not be surprised to see Illinois come out with an us against the world mentality and throw caution to the wind and go crazy. Or they could walk out of the tunnel and be like ‘holy crap, we’re in the Rose Bowl.’ The way Illinois comes out will determine a lot on how this game plays out.”

For complete coverage of the game tune into ABC as well as ESPN Radio or the Illini Sports Radio Network, and be sure to check back for updates at throughout the game, including football columnist Dan Johnson’s live game blog.