I couldn't watch the game---I was driving! But I heard the game on XM Radio and was cheering with every touchdown. And as the clock ran out it dawned on me that Illinois had accomplished something major here. Not since 1956 has an Illinois football team defeated a number one nationally ranked team.
The Fighting Illini have never finished at number one nationally in football in its century long history, nor has it played for the national championship in a bowl game. In my lifetime (I include my time in the womb for all intents and purposes) starting with January 1964 (I was born in March, got it?) Illinois has been to the Rose Bowl twice ('64 and '84)and a BCS (rip-off) Sugar Bowl birth once for winning the Big Ten Title. We won the '64 game but lost the other two.
So, in my humble opinion, beating the undefeated, nationally ranked number one team, on their own turf mind you, may be the single best accomplishment by the University of Illinois-Champaign football program in the last 50 years. I would say it even surpasses the '83 team that went undefeated in the Big Ten (surpasses because they choked against a 6-5 UCLA team in the '84 Rose Bowl 45-9, which I witnessed in person without the benefit of alcohol consumption to numb the pain).
Honestly, when Ohio State scored a touchdown in their first two plays I almost turned to another station. I thought it was over. But I remembered that we only lay down and wilt when we play Michigan. We've almost always given Ohio State a run for their money, win or lose, as we love to make them sweat. So I stayed tuned to the action.
We answered their touchdown with one of ours, then they got another, and we got another again. Then we didn't wait for them, but got another yet again. Then it was halftime. I just knew the Ohio State players would get their dander up in the locker room and come back out and stomp butt. But they didn't. They only got one more touchdown...and so did we. And then a strange euphoria at the thought of actually pulling this off (Illinois is unranked) mixed with worried fascination at the thought of upsetting the balance of the cosmos hit me. But then it dawned on me that Ohio State upset us a couple of years ago in basketball giving our number one nationally ranked team it's only regular season loss in the final game of the season. Therefore the cosmos was, in fact, correcting an imbalance and all would be okay...for now. Anyway it's almost 4am in Allentown, PA and I'm still giddy....