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Illinois wins Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Good thing for Illinois its coaches didn’t walk out on the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl before it began.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl was the butt of just about every bowl joke this season because it featured two teams that fired their coaches, one of which already had a losing record.

But, hey, have to fill those 35 bowl slots, right?

Anyway, Illinois broke their six-game losing streak in a 20-14 win over UCLA. The Illini have now also won back to back bowls for first time in school history. The difference in the game was a 39-yard pick-six by Illinois CB Terry Hawthorne. Illinois’ defense as a whole held the Bruins to just 18 yards rushing in the game.

Yet, somehow -- although it was the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, so this probably shouldn’t come as a surprise -- UCLA had a chance to win. Quarterback Kevin Prince threw a touchdown pass to Nelson Rosario with under a minute to play to pull the Bruins within a touchdown. The game was all but decided, but hey, UCLA gets an onside kick and who knows what could have happened.

However, UCLA’s loss drops them to 6-8 on the year and will try to start a more successful era under new coach Jim Mora. Illinois moves on from the Ron Zook tenure with new coach Tim Beckman, formerly of Toledo.