CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Fans across Central Illinois gathered in restaurants to watch the Fighting Illini in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Unfortunately, the team fell short to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 19-10. Though it wasn’t the outcome they hoped for, fans were still excited to watch the team.

“It’s pretty fantastic, ” said Illini fan Doug Tepovich. “Bowl season is always a good season. Pretty pumped up. Even though our best guys aren’t in there today, I think we’re gonna hold our own.”

Despite the outcome, many fans said the bowl game propels the football team and the athletic program to new heights.

“It’s been just a complete joy this year watching the team have success,” said Illini fan Philip Schaefer. “But most importantly, watching how they’ve had that success. The bowl game and the outcome are nice. But the direction that the program and the leadership there at the university is awesome.”

Illini fan Jeff Sorensen echoed the same sentiments.

“We’ve struggled for a couple of years,” said Sorensen. “And now that Brett is here taking us back to prominence, I think you’ll see that a lot better and more at that point.”

Fans, players and coaches are already looking forward to next season, just 243 days away.