football Edit

Bowl Bound: Illinois to play Mississippi State in ReliaQuest Bowl

Illinois has accepted an invitation to play in the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida, it was announced Sunday. Illinois will play No. 22 Mississippi State at Raymond James Stadium on Monday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

"The University of Illinois is pleased to accept the invitation to play in Tampa's ReliaQuest Bowl on January 2," said Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. "Coach Bielema, our coaches and staff, and our team members have worked tirelessly since their arrival on our campus for the opportunity to compete in a game with the history, reputation, and platform of the ReliaQuest Bowl"

Bielema is 13-11 in his Illinois career, the best two-year start for an Illinois head coach since John Mackovic in the 1988-89 seasons. Bielema has led Illinois to five Big Ten road wins, the most by an Illini head coach in his first two seasons since Lou Tepper from 1992-93, as the Illini have thrived in big-game atmospheres since Bielema arrived in Champaign.

In 14 years as a head coach, Bielema has led 11 of his teams - including this year's Illinois squad - to bowls.

"We are grateful to accept an invitation to the ReliaQuest Bowl," said head coach Bret Bielema. "The ReliaQuest Bowl is a first-class bowl that will give our program an opportunity to play a very good SEC opponent in Mississippi State with a national spotlight in a big-game atmosphere."

"This will be a great reward to finish the 2022 season and catapult us into 2023. I couldn't be more excited about this program where we're at, but more importantly, where we're going."

Illinois will make its second ever appearance in the ReliaQuest Bowl, which was formerly known as the Hall of Fame Bowl (1986–1995) and Outback Bowl (1996–2022). The Illini fell to Clemson in the 1991 Hall of Fame Bowl to finish the 1990 season.

It will be the Illini's first bowl game in the state of Florida since the 1999 Bowl, a dominant 63–21 win over Virginia in Miami. This will be the ninth January bowl game in Illinois history and first since the 2008 Rose Bowl Game.

The team will enjoy a beach day at Clearwater Beach, a trip to the children's wing of Tampa General Hospital, a night at Splitsville at Sparkman Wharf, and a visit to Busch Gardens prior to the Jan. 2 game.



The Tampa Bay Bowl Association hosts a college football game that is typically played on New Year's Day featuring teams from the SEC and Big Ten Conference or ACC (if a Big Ten team goes to the Orange Bowl). The game is a culmination of a week-long schedule of events throughout the Tampa Bay.

Date: January 2, 2023

Location: Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL

Time: kickoff 11:00 am CT

Stadium Capacity: 65,657

Network: ESPN2

Teams: Illinois vs. Mississippi St.

Payout:Typically $6.4 million

Follow the ReliaQuest Bowl on Twitter @ReliaQuestBowl.