I went to the trouble to write a post in November about The Fighting Illini football team upsetting number-one-ranked Ohio State because it was such a big deal. Illinois had never beaten a number one ranked team as a visiting opponent, and had not beaten any at Champaign, IL since the 1950s. But when I heard toward the end of December that Illinois, through some sort of odd chain of events, was going to the Rose Bowl...I kept quiet. For now they were shrouded in impending doom.
It wasn't enough that the Fighting Illini were the underdogs to a sixth-ranked USC team, or that USC was favored by a 15 point margin (the largest margin in any scheduled bowl game this season) that caused this dampening of my spirits. I guess it had more to do with the fact that since Illinois lost to Bear Bryant's Alabama team in the Liberty Bowl in 1982 (my freshman year), the Illini have won only one bowl game. I can hardly remember who they beat, except that our team was angry about playing another team so far below their own record or abilities. Among the several bowl losses was the January 1984 Rose Bowl (I witnessed in person) in which the Illini, ranked 3rd nationally at the time, fell hard 45-9 to an unranked UCLA team.
An argument could be made to ban the Fighting Illini football team from any and all post season play due to extreme incompetence. They have, after all, given up a total of 94 points in only their last two Rose Bowl appearances. That is quite a record, indeed!