Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois Fighting Illini

About Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illinois Fighting Illini football team has been active in the intercollegiate game since 1890 and represents the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Over the years, they have produced six Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees and two National Player of the Year winners. The team's main rivals include the Northwestern Wildcats, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Purdue Boilermakers. The team competes with Northwestern for the Land of Lincoln Trophy.

The team enjoyed its most successful period during Bob Zuppke's spell as head coach. Zuppke led Illinois to National Titles in 1914, 1919, 1923 and 1927. As of 2006, they have also recognized a fifth National Championship, awarded by the Boand selecting body, for their 1951 season, in which they won the Rose Bowl and finished with a 9-0-1 record.

In addition to their claimed National Championships, the team have 15 Big Ten Conference Championships, including seven won under Zuppke's leadership. The Fighting Illini have competed in a total of 17 bowl games and currently have an 8-9 record. Their most recent appearance was a successful showing at the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl, where they beat UCLA.

Dick Butkus and Red Grange are perhaps Illinois' two most notable former players. They are both Pro and College Football Hall of Fame inductees and the university has honored them by retiring their numbers. Other alumni include Jim Grabowski, George Halas and Bobby Mitchell. The program has produced 24 consensus All-Americans altogether.

Since its opening in 1923, Illinois have played their home games at Memorial Stadium (Champaign), which is also known in some circles as Zuppke Field. The venue has been dedicated to the people...