Game 7: Indiana v. Illinois: who's hurting more?

Illinois Fighting Illini

2009 record: 1-4 (0-3 in the Big Ten)

2008 record: 5-7 (3-5 in the Big Ten)

2008 Sagarin: 68

2009 Sagarin: 112 (IU is #86)

Coach: Ron Zook

Series: Illinois leads 43-20-2

TV: 7 p.m., Big Ten Network

Blog: Hail to the Orange

 

This is a protected game, a game that the Big Ten fancies a rivalry.  Unfortunately for both programs, Indiana-Illinois has been something of a bizarro Ohio State-Michigan game.  In the last 15 years, Illinois has played in only three bowl games, and among Big Ten teams, only IU, with one bowl bid in that time, has played fewer postseason games.  Since both teams hit the skids in 1995, Illinois has suffered three 0-8 Big Ten seasons and three 1-7 Big Ten seasons.  Since 1995, IU has gone 0-8 once and 1-7 six times.  In two of Illinois's three 1-7 seasons, IU was the Illini's lone win.  In two of IU's 1-7 seasons, Illinois has been the lone win.  While historically, the Michigan-Ohio State game has often decided who goes to the Rose Bowl, in recent history, the Illinois-Indiana game often has determined who finished last in the Big Ten. 

I'm not sure that any school has had quite as strange a run as Illinois in the last 15 years.  As I noted above, the Illini have played in nearly as few bowl games as IU, but they have been big ones: of those three bowl bids, two have been BCS bowls: the 2001-02 Fiesta Bowl (Illinois won the Big Ten, but the Rose Bowl hosted the BCS title game) and the 2007-08 Rose Bowl. 

The Illini have a significant advantage over IU in the all-time series.  Fortunately, this year's game is in Bloomington, because IU has won in Champaign only once in the last 30 years.  That was this game, in 2006, when IU rallied from an early 25-7 deficit and won at the final gun on an Austin Starr field goal. 

 

 

After that Hep pep talk, here's how it ended:

 

I'll be back more with the ungly story of the 2009 Illini.

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