Past Illini struggles make bowl game sweeter

Local Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Entering the season with a 9-27 overall record, making it to a bowl game with a 6-6 season means a little bit for for the Illini.

Illinois started the season with two wins, followed by an abrupt four game losing streak. Things turned around with a win over Wisconsin, starting a four game winning streak. But it was two losses to end their season.

There were many times the Illini spirits could have gotten too high, even too low, but that’s one of the things Josh Whitman loves about Lovie Smith, he is always even keel.

“One of the secrets to success I think for Coach and for our football program has been making sure that we enjoy the highs and that we understand the lows but we always, I think fairly quickly, come back to center,” Whitman said. “That, I think, has allowed us to build through some of the challenge.”

“The first year I got here I wish, Josh, I wish we were a bowl team that first year and to cut out a whole lot of the pain we went through but no, seriously, I think you do appreciate it more knowing how much and knowing about the struggle and how much we put into it,” Smith said.

Illinois starts their bowl practices on Monday.

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