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Decimated Illinois, Gutted Mississippi State: An Reliaquest Bowl Preview

Illini, CLANGA, and the Artist Formerly Known as the Outback Bowl

Syndication: The Clarion-Ledger
We miss you, already
Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK


Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

11AM CT time (God’s time zone) | January 2, 2023 (Yes, that is correct. This is not a drill. Illinois is playing in a January bowl game)

Opt Outs

Mississippi State

  • RB Dillon Johnson (Transfer portal)
  • RB Ke’Travion Hargrove (Transfer portal)
  • RB J.J. Jernighan (Transfer portal)
  • WR Rara Thomas (Transfer portal)
  • WR Zavion Thomas (Transfer portal)
  • WR Scoobie Ford (Transfer portal)
  • S Collin Duncan (Unclear)
  • S Dylan Lawrence (Transfer portal)


  • S DD Snyder (Transfer portal
  • RB Aidan Laughery (injury)
  • RB Chase Brown (Opt-out)
  • TE Luke Ford (Opt-out)
  • LB Ezekiel Holmes (Injury)
  • CB Devon Witherspoon (Opt-out)
  • CB Tahveon Nicholson (Injury)
  • S Sydney Brown (Opt-out)

I’m not gonna lie. I was super jacked up when Illinois drew MSU and it was 100% because I was jonesing for a Mike Leach and Bert combo press conference.

Sadly, Mike Leach has passed away and we college football fans were robbed of one of the great entertainers in the sport.

Illinois will also be short on their coaching staff with well known traitors DC Ryan Walters and OLB coach Kevin Kane and RB coach Cory Patterson going to coach at West Lafayette.

The line for this game is Illinois +2.5 and O/U is 46. I wouldn’t touch either of those with someone else’s money. Teams coming off an emotional event like the death of a beloved coach can go either way and respond very well or poorly.

The under would’ve seemed safe with Illinois having the #2 scoring defense in the nation, but missing two defensive coaches and our top two DBs against an air raid offense could spell disaster. On the bright side for Illinois, the Bulldogs are going to be short 3 RBs and 3 WRs including their top pass catcher, Rara Thomas. The Bulldogs run defense was strong and they will not have to face one of the top runners in the nation with Chase Brown opting out, but Bert has said that Josh McCray is finally fully healthy and will get a lot of carries on Monday.


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