ILLINI LEGENDS, LISTS & LORE: Seasons Ending in “3”
The University of Illinois’ 2013 football season is less than three weeks away and, if historical trends mean anything, a decent season could be in the offing for the Orange and Blue. Good things—mostly—have happened to the Fighting Illini gridders in seasons ending in the number three.
1893: Coach E.K. Hall’s squad went 3-2-3, outscoring its opponents by a margin of 156-106
1903: College Football Hall of Fame coach George Woodruff first and only Illini squad won its first eight games. The bad news was that it lost its last six games in a row.
1913: Bob Zupple’s first Illini team wasn’t great, but did post a respectable 4-2-1 record, winning its first four games of the year.
1923: With sophomore running back Red Grange in Zuppke’s backfield, the Illini posted a perfect 8-0-0 record, claiming the Big Ten title and mythical national championship.
1933: Quarterbacked by honorable mention All-American Jack Beynon, Illinois was two games above .500 at 5-3-0.
1943: Coach Ray Eliot’s second team, depleted of its talent by World War II, finished 3-7-0.
1953: The Illini claimed the Big Ten championship, finishing 7-1-1, but Michigan State was picked by conference athletic directors to represent the league in the Rose Bowl.
1963: Led by Dick Butkus, Jim Grabowski and company, Illinois once again won the Big Ten title and went on to defeat Washington in the ’64 Rose Bowl.
1973: Coach Bob Blackman’s third Illini squad finished one game under .500 (5-6-0).
1983: Big Ten champs for the 12th time in its history, Illinois remains as the only conference team in history to post a perfect 9-0 mark in league play.
1993: Coach Lou Tepper’s second team beat 13th-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor, but finished 5-6-0 overall.
2003: OK, not every team that played in a season ending in “3” had something to brag about. Coach Ron Turner’s seventh Illini squad was 1-11 overall, 0-8 in the Big Ten.
Sunday: Dave Walters, cross country/track & field (58)
Monday: Tom Shelton, baseball (23)
Tuesday: Steve Bernstein, football coach (69)
Wednesday: Don Klusendorf, basketball (51)
Thursday: Jon Beutjer, football (33)
Friday: Neil Rackers, football (37)
Saturday: Dee Brown, basketball (29)
By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore.
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