The UCLA Bruins have been selected to play in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, to be played at 12:30 p.m. PST on Saturday, December 31 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. In the nationally televised game on ESPN, the Bruins will battle the Illinois Fighting Illini out of the Big Ten Conference.
|Illinois Fighting Illini|
|2011 Record||6-6 (2-6)|
|Series||UCLA leads 6-5|
|last in 2004|
The Illini got off to a blazing start to 2011, winning their first six games. However, Illinois failed to win a game after that, dropping their final six games to finish 6-6. Illinois didn't score more than 17 points in any of those last six games, averaging just 11 points per game in the second half of the season.
The poor start cost head coach Ron Zook his job. Zook was fired on November 27, and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will coach the team in their bowl game.
The best player on Illinois is wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who caught 84 passes for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Big Ten Conference in catches and second in the conference in receiving yards. The Illini only had four other players with double-digit catches on the season, and none more than 25, so Jenkins is their main threat through the air.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase led the team in rushing attempts and was second in rushing yards with 514, one of four different players with at least 400 rushing yards on the season.
UCLA leads the all-time series with Illinois 6-5, including wins in each of the last four meetings. Their last meeting came in 2004, a 35-17 road win for the Bruins. The two schools have battled in three previous bowl games:
- 1946 Rose Bowl: Illinois 45, UCLA 14
- 1984 Rose Bowl: UCLA 45, Illinois 9
- 1991 Hancock Bowl: UCLA 6, Illinois 3