Northwestern and Illinois play each season for the Land of Lincoln Trophy and have been playing annually since 1927. The intrastate rivalry has blossomed due to the proximity of the two schools, which makes for a great game as many fans will travel to the opposing school for this match up.
The Purdue Canon is presented to the winner when Illinois takes on Purdue. The trophy dates back to an incident in 1905 when a group of Purdue students brought the canon to U of I in hopes of firing it off after a victory, only to get it confiscated. After an eleven year hiatus, the rivalry resumed in 1943 and has been an exciting game to watch ever since.
The winner of the rivalry game between Illinois and Ohio State receives the Illbuck trophy; a wooden replica of a once live turtle with the series results etched into its back.With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014 these two schools will no longer play each season making it that much more special when these two rivals face off.
Fighting Illini Tailgate Guide
Illinois is a great place to tailgate, as there is a fun mix of family friendly and college party atmosphere in Champaign. You can feel free to pull out the grill and the portable tv and talk with some of the great alumni of Illinois, many of whom have gone on to very successful careers and present great networking opportunities. Or, you can join in with the students in a case race before the game; whichever you choose you can’t go wrong.
The Illini Walk gives fans a chance to greet their favorite Illinois players as they arrive at Memorial Stadium. Two hours before game time, all of the players and coaches walk from 1st street to the football complex and greet fans along the way.
The best time of year to go is either during the first weeks of the season when Illinois plays cupcake games against other small Illinois state college like State, Eastern, or Western, or during Big Ten conference games such as Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana and Purdue which are all border war games. The best game of the year comes typically during the last week of the season as Illinois takes on Big Ten in state Rival Northwestern in an Illinois Civil War, which is when you’ll find the best crowds as everyone hits the stadium to get one last good look at the team before the season ends.
Red Grange is a notable figure in the Fighting Illini’s history: in 1924 in a game against the University of Michigan, he scored six touchdowns in the first twelve minutes and was nicknamed the Galloping Ghost. In 2011, he was voted the Greatest Big Ten Icon by the Big Ten Network and is immortalized in a beautiful bronze statue outside the West side of Memorial Stadium.
The Illini Walk gives fans a chance to greet their favorite Illinois players as they arrive at Memorial Stadium. Two hours before game time, all of the players and coaches walk from 1st street to the football complex and greet fans along the way. It’s a great thing to do for kids who idolize the Illini players, so make sure to check it out during your visit to Urbana-Champaign.
Every year there is a big parade to celebrate homecoming, which dates back to 1910. It is mostly supported by alumni and maintains a family-friendly atmosphere. Bring your friends because there are lots to see and do. The band, cheerleaders, and Greek life will all be a part of the parade making it well worth your time.
Two and a half hours before kick-off, the area between Kirby Avenue and Irwin Drive is reserved for the Illini Street Fest. The Fest is free, open to the public, and offers a variety of entertainment such as live performances by the cheerleaders and marching band, as well as a mini golf course and face painting for the kids. This family-friendly tailgate is enjoyable for all who attend Illini games.
Illini Street FestTwo and a half hours before kick-off, the area between Kirby Avenue and Irwin Drive is reserved for the Illini Street Fest. The Fest is free, open to the public, and offers a variety of entertainment such as live performances by the cheerleaders and marching band, as well as a mini golf course and face painting for the kids. This family-friendly tailgate is enjoyable for all who attend Illini games.
Game Day Purchase LotsIf you’re looking to grab a tailgating spot on game day then make sure to arrive early to the Game Day Purchase Lots. Tailgating is allowed in all the lots surrounding Memorial Stadium and open at 7 AM and remain open until one hour after the game.
Legends Bar & GrillThis neighborhood bar located in the heart of campus town is a fan favorite on game day. The bar is filled with U of I memorabilia and offers a great game day atmosphere for Illini fans.
Fighting Illini Stadium Guide
The Illini student section, also known as Block I, is located in the north end zone, and when the team is good, the stands are packed to the brim. In the second half, they do a display of colored cards that make pictures representing the Illini football nation. Lately, the Illini have struggled. However, the student section remains active and vocal throughout the games. These are some of the best fans to sit with as they are very up to date on how the team is doing and have a lot of passion for anything and everything Illini.
The mascot of the Fighting Illini is Chief Illiniwek, but he has been banned recently from making appearances at games. The students do not like this little banning of their famed hero and like to continue to chants they did when he was present. It’s nice to see the students do their part to keep the team’s history alive and well. This is an excellent way to join in with the fans as it has not only been a hot issue for the fans at the University, but also for fans across the state of Illinois as Chief Illiniwek was a major symbol of the program for as long as most fans can remember.
Another great tradition to be a part of is the singing of the Oskee-Wow-Wow fight song. The song gets the crowd charged to cheer on the Illini, so join in with the fans. The lyrics are posted below, and you can find a music track here.
There are nearly 200 pillars surrounding Memorial Stadium that are engraved with the names of U of I students who served during World War I. Pay tribute to these fallen heroes by visiting these pillars.
In honor of the Fighting Illini’s football accomplishments, lettering has been added to the stadium that reads “Welcome to Memorial Stadium Home of the Fighting Illini,” as well as listing National Championships, Big Ten championships, and retired numbers.
A tribute to Harold “Red” Grange sits near the northeast end zone in the form of rock from the stone quarry in Indiana used to create the granite columns in the stadium. Players will often touch the Grange Rock on their way into the stadium.
At every U of I game, you will hear half the stadium shouting “I-L-I” while the other half will shout “I-N-I” in response.
We’re loyal to you Illinois We’re “Orange and Blue,” Illinois We’ll back you to stand ‘Gainst the best in the land For we know you have sand, Illinois Rah! Rah! So crack out the ball Illinois We’re backing you all Illinois Our team is the fame protector; On boys, for we expect a Victory from you Illinois Chehee, Cheha, Cheha-ha-ha Go Illini Go Chehee, Cheha, Cheha-ha-ha Go Illini Go Illinois, Illinois, Illinois Fling out that dear old flag of Orange and Blue Lead on your sons and daughters, Fighting for you; Like men of old, on giants Placing reliance, shouting defiance Oskee-wow-wow! Amid the broad green plains That nourish our land, For honest labor and for learning we stand, And unto thee we pledge our heart and hand, Dear Alma Mater, Illinois
Oskee Wow Wow
Old Princeton yells her tiger Wisconsin her varsity And they give the same old Rah! Rah! Rah! At each university But the yell that always thrills me, And fills my heart with joy, Is the good old Oskee-wow-wow, That they yell at Illinois
Chorus: Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois Our eyes are all on you Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois Wave your Orange and Blue, Rah! Rah! When your team trots out before you Ev’ry man stand up and yell Back the team to gain a victory Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois
Hail To The Orange
Hail to the Orange. Hail to the Blue. Hail Alma Mater, Ever so true. We love no other, So let our motto be Victory, Illinois, Varsity.