Top of the morning, Jan. 1, 2014
Something to get you going today, courtesy executive editor Jim Rossow:
Jan. 1, baby!
Today most certainly is a holiday for fans of college football.
The Illini aren't in action — it's been six years since they played on Jan. 1 and 24 years since they won on New Year's Day — but there are Illinois connections.
Long-snapping for Michigan State in the Rose Bowl (4 p.m., ESPN) is Taybor Pepper (he's No. 52). He's the son of former Illini Cam Pepper, who played for the last Illinois team to win on Jan. 1 (31-21 against Virginia in the '90 Citrus Bowl).
At left tackle for Stanford is Andrus Peat (No. 70), son of former Champaign Central great Todd Peat. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is a solid NFL prospect, earning second-team All-Pac 12 honors this season.
Another son of a former Illini, Jordan Westerkamp (No. 1), is starting at receiver for Nebraska in the Gator Bowl (11 a.m., ESPN2). Bob Westerkamp played at Illinois after tearing it up at Lombard Montini, where he earned News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year in '82.
Jan. 1 babies
We asked Mike Pearson, whose popular "Illini Legends, Lists and Lore" series has run in our Sunday sports section for nearly 20 years, for a list of Illini types born on Jan. 1.
— Rod Fletcher (basketball)
— Steve Glasson (football)
— Jim Bennett (football)
— Terry Hawthorne (football)
— Troy Tirapelle (wrestling)
— Lance Hofer (football)
— Vuthik Chhay (gymnastics)
— Kristine Cook (golf)
— Kirsten Koepcke (swimming)