A few minutes with...

   ...Comedian and Illinois alum Arte Johnson

Enduring presence patrols UI side

   He''s the last remaining active link to an era of Illinois football when helmets came without facemasks, opponents included the Iowa Seahawks and a fiery Massachusetts native who would come to be known as Mr. Illini walked the sidelines.

   Since 1943, Monsignor Edward J. Duncan has been an enduring presence through the good times and the bad of Illinois football. And on those rare occasions when the LaSalle native is absent from the sidelines  or if longtime Illini fans can''t readily spot him  Duncan is sure to hear about it.

Bleill: Neato bandito! Here´s your LSU fact guide

   You know all about Red Grange, Bob Zuppke and Chief Illiniwek. But any good Illinois fan needs to know about Billy Cannon, Paul Dietzel and the Chinese Bandits. Here are 10 important  OK, semi-important  things News-Gazette staff writer Tony Bleill discovered about the UI''s Sugar Bowl opponent, LSU:


Illini locked in on job at hand

   NEW ORLEANS  Late in Sunday''s practice, with the Illinois offense near its own end zone, the sound system at the Superdome kicked in. It was a combination of crowd noise and music, all designed to give the Illini fits.

   Didn''t work.

Kroner: Bowl games leave lasting memories

   Illinois football is making its 14th bowl appearance. Staff writer Fred Kroner researched the previous 13 games, reaching one player from each Illinois team. His report:

Illini women picking up speed

   CHAMPAIGN  Though not yet clearly distinguishable, the outline is taking shape. Don''t look now, but that appears to be a ... yes ... an Illinois bandwagon.

   After Sunday''s vanilla 68-53 victory against Northwestern in front of 3,436 at the Assembly Hall, the Illini women are 9-3, their best start since 1996.

Asmussen: It´s an intoxicating atmosphere

   As streets go, there aren''t many more famous in the nation than the appropriately named Bourbon.

   Where else in ''Merica (President Bush pronunciation) can you sprint into a store and bring out an open glass of beer, wine, or any other drink imaginable? Walk down the street, and the police officers give you the good job look.

Dawson: First to last, it was a wild ride

   There were dozens of defining moments in Illinois'' Big Ten championship season. Not all of them happened in Illini games. News-Gazette staff writer Brett Dawson looks back at the top 10 moments of the year:

New Orleans Insider

   Bob Asmussen and Brian Dietz are providing a daily look at the sights and sounds from Illinois'' Sugar Bowl preparations. Sunday''s glance:

Mezydlo: Sugar Bowl sweetens New Orleans pot

   Gumbo, Bourbon Street, the mighty Mississippi ... it all reeks of true New Orleans tradition. So does the Sugar Bowl. The annual New Year''s Day classic has been drawing fans since the early 1930s. News-Gazette staff writer Jeff Mezydlo takes a look at 10 things Illinois fans need to know about the game: