Illini Nation gives No. 24 Illinois big home field advantage
CHAMPAIGN (25 News Now) - Illinois head coach Bret Bielema spent last week pleading for Illini Nation to show up and give the Illini a big home field advantage versus Iowa.
That mission was accomplished as Illini Nation created an electric atmosphere during the Illini’s 9-6 win over Iowa on Saturday.
“Having it loud and be able to look around and really internalize their energy because they were loud and there was lot of people,” Tarique Barnes, Illinois junior linebacker, said. “I think having the fans behind us, having a packed out stadium, it just really puts more... like there’s a lot of people out here. Let’s do it.”
Nearly 45,000 fans packed Memorial Stadium, creating an environment unlike the Illini have seen this season.
“An atmosphere like that is just unlike any other that I’ve experienced since I’ve been at Illinois,” Chase Brown, Illinois junior running back, said.
“We came over for a walk through at 11:30 and saw the buzz in the tailgate section and our kids were commenting about it,” Bielema said. “It was a really cool and awesome moment.”
The Illini players say Saturday’s electric atmosphere offered just a glimpse of what the future of this program holds.
“So cool to see the evolution of these and people and how they really rally around this program and see how this thing is built,” Art Sitkowski, Illinois junior quarterback, said. “So, it’s really special and it’ll keep going in the right direction.”
While Illinois feeds off the energy of the fans, they’re also feeding off the energy of each other.
“It’s just a fun group to be around,” Bielema said. “They play for each other. There’s a lot of tears, a lot of emotion out there and we get to buckle up buttercup and do it again this week.”
Copyright 2022 WEEK. All rights reserved.