What is the biggest win in Illinois history?

#1
Former Krush Cow
South Bend, IN
Saw this on reddit, and I thought it would be fun to hear what other people's opinion is. Define biggest as most memorable, most important, most influential, or whatever you describe biggest as.
 
#2
Elite 8 wins take your pick
1) '89 over Syracuse - I was on my way back from spring break and we pulled over to watch the game near St. Louis
2) '05 over Arizona - I was at that game with many friends so we had to break up into groups of 4 for seating purposes. None of us left even though it wasn't looking good. Will never have another live experience like that one. It was unbelievable..."off the charts" as BU likes to say.
 
#3
It's depressing that I think it might be one of these two:


I say depressing not as anything against either of those games, which were obviously awesome, but that they were in the midst of pretty pedestrian seasons (one finished under .500, the other 8-4 but .500 in the conference) that really had no significant impact on the long-term health of the program.

We deserve medals for following this, tbh.
 
#11
The 24-7 win over #16 Iowa in 1981. The first huge win of the Mike White era that kicked off the decade and a half run of relevance. If you're looking for a program changing game (in the positive sense), this is probably it.

There were some huge wins since 1995, but none of them seem to come with any staying power. The win over Ohio St. in 2007 is an obvious example. Turned out to be the peak of the Zook era, rather than the start of something big.
 
#12
Some fun/depressing numbers because I'm a masochist:

From '81 to '95, Illinois was 19-32-3 (.380) against ranked teams and 78-50-2 (.608) against everyone else.

From '96 to present, Illinois is 9-72 (.111) against ranked teams and 85-96 (.470) against everyone else.

Of the 9 wins over ranked opponents since 1996, four of them were relatively early season wins over teams that only won 6 or 7 games and didn't end the season ranked - '99 over #25 Ohio St. (6-6), '01 over #20 Purdue (6-6), '01 over #25 Ohio St. (7-5) and '11 over #22 Az. St. (6-7).

The Most impressive wins for Illinois since 1996 are definitely '99 over Michigan (10-2, #5, won Orange Bowl), '01 over Louisville (11-2, #17, won Liberty Bowl) and '07 over Ohio St. (11-2, #5, lost BCS championship game).
 
#17
More seriously, biggest win in basketball was the win over Arizona to continue the 2005 run. My favorite Illinois football game of all time was a loss. The Dave Wilson game against Ohio State was just awesome after all those horrible years of grind-it-out boring Big Ten football with no chance to win.
 
#18
The 24-7 win over #16 Iowa in 1981. The first huge win of the Mike White era that kicked off the decade and a half run of relevance. If you're looking for a program changing game (in the positive sense), this is probably it.
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I would agree with this Iowa game if I was limited to my lifetime...
Defeating Michigan in 1924
but this win over Michigan is bigger if considering the history of Illinois football. That we even know of this game over 90 years later is telling of how big this win really was.
 
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#19
Sycamore, Illinois
1983 football at home vs Michigan. On our way to the Rose Bowl. I was still in high school and remember listening to the game on the radio at work. I remember it being the first time thinking of Illinois being an equal with Michigan and Ohio State that you would see on TV a lot of Saturday’s back then. Looking at pictures and video of the crowd in the stadium that day really shows what is possible here.

2005 Elite Eight vs Arizona was certainly most memorable basketball game for me. 1989 Elite Eight vs Syracuse has to be up there too. Two victories over Louisville (89 S16 & 05 F4) also stand out. Sad to remember when we stood toe to toe with top programs in the country and how far we seem from that now.

Should also mention 1979 Eddie Johnson jumper beating Magic Johnson and #1 Michigan St. I remember the highlight making the National nightly news the next day. I had watched the high school state tournament on that floor for several years so it was pretty impressive to see it on the national news.
 
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#20
Not the biggest win, but very important when it happened. 1985, the Illini had a rough non conference most notably getting killed by Nebraska. Beat a highly ranked tOSU at home to open the Big Ten season. 31-28 on a last second field goal. Chris White - Coach White’s son for 3!
 
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#21
1983 football at home vs Michigan. On our way to the Rose Bowl. I was still in high school and remember listening to the game on the radio at work. I remember it being the first time thinking of Illinois being an equal with Michigan and Ohio State that you would see on TV a lot of Saturday’s back then. Looking at pictures and video of the crowd in the stadium that day really shows what is possible here.

2005 Elite Eight vs Arizona was certainly most memorable basketball game for me. 1989 Elite Eight vs Syracuse has to be up there too. Two victories over Louisville (89 S16 & 05 F4) also stand out. Sad to remember when we stood toe to toe with top programs in the country and how far we seem from that now.

Should also mention 1979 Eddie Johnson jumper beating Magic Johnson and #1 Michigan St. I remember the highlight making the National nightly news the next day. I had watched the high school state tournament on that floor for several years so it was pretty impressive to see it on the national news.
I was at that game sitting in the top row of the C section. The place was packed and went nuts after the win. For a brief moment we were #1. Of course losing 4 of the next 5 ended the hope.
 
#22
I was at that game sitting in the top row of the C section. The place was packed and went nuts after the win. For a brief moment we were #1. Of course losing 4 of the next 5 ended the hope.
I think you have the wrong year. In 1983, we lost a total of two games -- the first against Mizzou in Columbia and the thrashing by UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In between we went 10-0 including big wins against Iowa at home (33-0), Michigan (again at home - 16 -6 with our final two points coming on a safety by Joe Miles of Evan Cooper on a punt return) and tOSU, also at home where we rallied on a late Thomas Rooks 21-yard TD run. That last one put us into the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1964. To me, that win over the Buckeyes might very well be both my favorite and best Illini victory in my lifetime.

I attended both losses that year and all three of the cited wins while living in Colorado. Has there been a year since where, home or away, we have beaten tOSU, UM and Iowa in the same season? Not many, if so.
 
#23
WOW!! You guys bring back some very dear and heartwarming memories.

The biggest and most significant win in school history, football or basketball, arguably is the "comeback" win in '05. If it's not the biggest, it's deeply in the conversation.

The two wins I harbor the most affection for are the Rose Bowl clinching victory at home in '83, and the Sugar Bowl clinching Thanksgiving Day game. Reason being I attended both of those games and the feeling was, to this day, indescribable!! In '83 it was the 49-21 win over Indiana on the afternoon of Nov. 12th. When the final gun sounded they played a parody of the Beach Boys '60's hit "Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)" on the Memorial Stadium PA system. It was a cutesy little tune by Captain Rat & the Blind Rivets "The Fighting Illini In Pasadena"! The whole stadium seemed to go out onto the field and celebrate. I remember our group of friends standing on the 50 toasting the score board. In those days it was possible to sneak a beer or two into the games if you were at least mildly discreet! No one wanted that day to end!

[video]




The 34-28 win over Northwestern on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2001 was special in that we had a Thanksgiving feast with some of those same friends we'd toasted the scoreboard with 18 years earlier. It was a beautiful day for late November and we had turkey and all the trimmings served on real China, sipped dinner wine from real glass wine glasses at the very south edge of what is now Grange Grove right next to Kirby Ave. Hope and expectations for coach Turner and his staff looking to the future were running high and seemed very realistic at the time. The Illini were getting guys like Kurt Kittner, Brandon Lloyd and Tony Pashos to come play at Memorial Stadium.

I know those two wins aren't the most significant or well known to most Illini fans but they sure are special to our group!!
 
#24
Castle Pines, Colorado
WOW!! You guys bring back some very dear and heartwarming memories.

The biggest and most significant win in school history, football or basketball, arguably is the "comeback" win in '05. If it's not the biggest, it's deeply in the conversation.

The two wins I harbor the most affection for are the Rose Bowl clinching victory at home in '83, and the Sugar Bowl clinching Thanksgiving Day game. Reason being I attended both of those games and the feeling was, to this day, indescribable!! In '83 it was the 49-21 win over Indiana on the afternoon of Nov. 12th. When the final gun sounded they played a parody of the Beach Boys '60's hit "Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)" on the Memorial Stadium PA system. It was a cutesy little tune by Captain Rat & the Blind Rivets "The Fighting Illini In Pasadena"! The whole stadium seemed to go out onto the field and celebrate. I remember our group of friends standing on the 50 toasting the score board. In those days it was possible to sneak a beer or two into the games if you were at least mildly discreet! No one wanted that day to end!
Somewhere in a box tucked far away in my basement, I still have the 45-rpm version of "The Fighting Illini in Pasadena." It was a Christmas gift while visiting my folks in Urbana that year prior to flying to LA for the Rose Bowl.

Thirty-five years ago now. Feels like a million.
 
#25
I think you have the wrong year. In 1983, we lost a total of two games -- the first against Mizzou in Columbia and the thrashing by UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In between we went 10-0 including big wins against Iowa at home (33-0), Michigan (again at home - 16 -6 with our final two points coming on a safety by Joe Miles of Evan Cooper on a punt return) and tOSU, also at home where we rallied on a late Thomas Rooks 21-yard TD run. That last one put us into the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1964. To me, that win over the Buckeyes might very well be both my favorite and best Illini victory in my lifetime.

I attended both losses that year and all three of the cited wins while living in Colorado. Has there been a year since where, home or away, we have beaten tOSU, UM and Iowa in the same season? Not many, if so.
KoiDog, this is the problem when the basketball fans invade our football forum "safe space."

The remarkable thing about the 1983 season is that it was the only time, and will most likely be the only time, that a Big Ten team had beaten every other team in the conference. That you attended that many games while living in Colorado is also pretty remarkable.
 
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