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Bowl Picks: Illinois Vs. Baylor

Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5, 4-4 Big Twelve)

Texas Bowl
December 29 - 6:00 pm - ESPN
Houston, TX
$612,500 payout per team

In what is sure to be a ratings juggernaut, the up and down Illinois Fighting Illini, led by perennial "hot seat" coach Ron Zook, will face the Baylor Bears, who will have to travel all of three and a half hours to get to this game. These teams have met only once prior, a 34-17 Baylor win in 1976. Illinois will look to avenge that loss and end 2010 on a winning note.

Originally known as the Houston Bowl, this will be the ninth time this bowl game has been played, every time calling Houston home. Neither of these teams have played in the Houston/Texas Bowl before. Neither team played in any bowl game last season, with Baylor winning only four games while Illinois could only muster three victories.

If you remember one game from the 2010 Illinois season, it would most likely be the 67-65 triple-overtime loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. For comparison, when those teams met in basketball in 2010, the score was 51-44, an Illinois victory. Unfortunately for the Illini, Baylor is more than capable of putting points on the board, being held below 20 points only once (in a loss TCU). Expect Baylor to do more of the same this game.
-SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom

SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: Baylor 41, Illinois 18

Analyst Projections
Aaron - Baylor
Anson - Baylor
Jeff - Baylor

From ESPN:

Two exciting, elusive dual-threat quarterbacks in Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase will face off in Reliant Stadium and be flanked by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The Illini's Mikel Leshoure stole the show at Wrigley Field against Northwestern with a 330-yard performance, and Baylor's Jay Finley ran for 250 yards in a win over Kansas State earlier this year. -- David Ubben

From Fox Sports:

The Dynamic Quarterback Bowl, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase are two of the nation's most exciting young quarterbacks and they should put on a show. Illini RB Mikel Leshoure will be looking to make a statement as he's starting to climb up draft boards in a hurry. Ron Zook could desperately use this win, while Baylor is just happy to be in a bowl game for the first time since the Southwest Conference days.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.