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2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Recap

Illinois Fighting Illini vs UCLA Bruins - Illinois 20, UCLA 14

It was as bad as you thought it was going to be. The Illinois Fighting Illini and the UCLA Bruins were, to borrow from former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, “ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!”

Two teams with terrible profiles and dubious distinctions played a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl that was as dreary and dreadful as any national football pundit expected. The crowd that came to AT&T Park in San Francisco was not a very large one, and who could blame so many Bay Area residents from either staying home or doing other things? These two teams were not worthy of the college football postseason for all the obvious reasons. They proved as much in their limp and lame effort in the city by the bay.

Neither offense generated more than 14 points, and weirdly enough, UCLA’s offense outscored Illinois’s offense 14-13. The only problem for the Bruins – waiting for head coach Jim Mora, Jr., to join them after the end of this contest – was that they also scored seven points for the Illini, who are about to be coached by former Toledo boss Tim Beckman. Yes, Illinois – whose offense was listless throughout the first half – was somehow able to take a 10-7 lead to the locker room at halftime because of a late Christmas present from UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince. The Bruins’ signal caller telegraphed a simple out route, and what’s more is that Prince threw the pass from the middle of the field, not even the near-side hashmark. The throw was a long one, and Illinois defensive back Terry Hawthorne was able to step in front of his man and pluck the ball for a pick-six. Hawthorne strolled into the end zone from 39 yards away, and the Illini created the turning point they needed. Illinois completed 19 of 33 passes (from three passers) and mustered a very modest total of 326 yards while punting five times and committing a turnover. Yet, it was able to win because UCLA – the owner of a 6-7 record going into this game – was far worse.

The Bruins totaled just 219 total yards, with only 18 coming on the ground. Prince couldn’t even hit 50 percent of his passes, going 14 of 29 on the day. It’s worth noting that UCLA’s second touchdown of the day came with only 29 seconds left in regulation. The garbage score meant that UCLA scored just seven points while this game was still competitive. It was a fitting conclusion for a team that finished its season with a 6-8 mark.

Yes, this bowl was as awful as you - and the rest of America – predicted.

By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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