Cal to Face Illinois in 2019 Redbox Bowl

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The match-up has been confirmed for the 2019 Redbox Bowl – the 18th installment of the Bay Area’s bowl game overall – with the California Golden Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) facing the Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) at Levi’s Stadium on Monday, December 30th. The game will mark the first bowl meeting between the Golden Bears and Illini,  following 10 previous regular season inter-conference contests. Illinois leads the all-time series over Cal with a record of 7-3, though Cal has won the two most recent games (2003, 2005).

The Redbox Bowl will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. PT in front of a national television audience on FOX, with pregame coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. The game will also be simulcast in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Tickets and event details are now available through Ticketmaster at Media looking to request credentials to cover the game must apply online to the Redbox Bowl Media Credential Website.

“The Fighting Illini and Golden Bears present an incredibly compelling match-up for the 2019 Redbox Bowl and we look forward to featuring them for Bay Area college football fans at Levi’s Stadium and for a national audience on FOX,” said Ryan Oppelt, executive director of the Redbox Bowl. “Cal and Illinois are ascending programs with game-breaking talent on both sides of the ball, elements we expect will excite the local fans of the Golden Bears along with the large alumni base of the Illini.”

Both the Golden Bears and Illini have previously played in and won the Bay Area’s bowl game, Cal in 2008, 24-17, over Miami (Fla.) and Illinois in 2011, 20-14, over UCLA. Cal will be making its 24th overall bowl appearance (11-11-1) and is playing in consecutive bowl games for the first time since 2008-09. Illinois is making its 19th overall bowl appearance (8-10) and is playing in its first bowl game in five years.

Cal finished the 2019 Pac-12 season tied for second in the Pac-12 North and enters the bowl game having won three of its last four games. Head coach Justin Wilcox is bringing Cal to a second straight bowl game in his first three years as head coach. Last year, Cal fell to TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl by a final score of 7–10, but Wilcox’s coaching brought the organization out of a two-year bowl absence. Under Wilcox, Cal is 9-0 in regular-season non-conference road games, including two wins each over Power 5 schools North Carolina and Ole Miss.

Illinois finished the 2019 Big Ten season fourth in the Big Ten West and won four of its final six games to finish the season. Head coach Lovie Smith will be coaching in his first bowl game in his fourth season at the helm of the Illini. The last time the Fighting Illini appeared in a bowl game was in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, where they lost to Louisiana Tech 18–35. Illinois’ last postseason victory came at the 2011 version of the Bay Area’s bowl game. At that time, the Fight Hunger Bowl was hosted at AT&T Park in San Francisco. 

Redbox is in the second year of a multi-year partnership as the presenting partner of the Bay Area bowl game. Since its inception in 2002, the bowl game has become an annual fixture in the Bay Area sports landscape. It was previously held at what is now known as Oracle Park in San Francisco before moving to Levi’s Stadium in 2014.

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