Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (-6, 57.5 o/u)
On Friday, December 26, the Illinois Fightign Illini take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2014 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (1:00 P.M. Eastern).
The Illini went 6-6 on the year, and just 3-5 in the Big Ten. They won their last two games to become bowl eligible, though, upsetting Penn State (16-14) as 6.5-point underdogs and trouncing Northwestern (47-33).
Illinois has an 8-9 bowl record overall, but haven’t been to a bowl game since 2011.
“A month ago, you didn’t think we had a chance,” head coach Tim Beckman said. “It’s kind of a giggle now. When people doubt you, and you prove them wrong, it’s very rewarding.”
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs finished 8-5 (7-1 C-USA). They earned a spot in the MAC title game, but dropped a tight 26-23 decision to high-scoring Marshall. The week before being held to three scores by the Thundering Herd, the Bulldogs had their biggest offensive output of the season, smashing Rice 76-31.
The Bulldogs have a 2–3–1 record in bowl games.
“I think this is about the only bowl game we could have gone to that would have taken the sting out of losing just a heartbreaking game,” Tech coach Skip Holtz said.
“When you start talking about the opportunity to play a Big Ten team, you want a chance at a bowl game to go kind of validate what you’ve accomplished this season,” Holtz added. “It’s not just about going to win, but it’s about playing the best quality opponent you can.”
Louisiana Tech is listed as a six-point favorite in the odds with the game over/under currently at 57.5 points.
(Photo credit: Westside Shooter [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)