URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Nothing beats a home game at Memorial Stadium for fans of the Fighting Illini. But watching their team play in a bowl game with a few dozen superfans is a close second.
It is the first time in five years Illinois football has made it to the postseason. Some fans could not make the trip, but they still wanted to watch with a cheering crowd. Many of them gathered at watch parties around Central Illinois.
Illinois played Cal in the Redbox Bowl. A lot of fans were not sure the team would get to this point, they are used to it being basketball season by now.
Some fans say their favorite part of the year was the upset against Wisconsin, which they think makes up for the loss against Northwestern. All in all, one fan says he is happy the team is still playing.
“The nice thing is I think they’re playing with house money a little bit cause they’re an underdog,” says Rotary Club Board Member Jerry Smith. “They’re in California, probably not a lot of people expect them to win. I suspect they’re highly motivated. If they win they finish 7-6, they have a winning season, something to build on for next year.”
Rotary Club members made up a big chunk of the fans watching at Attie’s Bar and Grill. They say they are less worried about the final score because they think the program is heading in the right direction.