No. 19 Illini Look To Continue Offensive Dominance

Jameel Cook and the Illini host California Saturday.
Jameel Cook and the Illini host California Saturday.

Sept. 11, 2000

From the Associated Press

The Illinois Fighting Illini, winners of six straight games, return home Saturday to face the California Golden Bears for the first time since 1974.

The 19th-ranked Illini (2-0) extended their winning streak dating back to last season with a 49-13 victory at San Diego State last Saturday.

Illinois, which is winning by an average of 28.5 points during the streak, had its second straight strong offensive performance.

After racking up 475 yards and 35 points in its season-opening win over Middle Tennessee State, the Illini scored 49 points and had 417 yards in the victory over the Aztecs.

Illinois scored on five of its first seven possessions and grabbed a 35-6 lead at halftime, as Rocky Harvey gained 104 of his 124 yards rushing in the first 30 minutes.

"We pretty much could move the ball at will after the first drive," said Illini quarterback Kurt Kittner, who threw three touchdown passes for the second straight game.

California (1-0) will be looking for its second consecutive upset to open this season when it faces Illinois.

The Golden Bears beat favored Utah 24-21 last Saturday for their fifth consecutive season-opening victory.

California, trying to go 2-0 for the first time since 1997, has reason to be optimistic based on its offensive performance last week against the Utes.

The Golden Bears were ranked last in the Pac-10 in almost every offensive category last season, but had 329 yards of total offense in beating Utah, a total California surpassed only twice last season.

"I would say that we made some progress, but there is still a lot of room for improvement," California coach Tom Holmoe said. "I think you can see there are some things in our offense that are a little bit better."

California and Illinois have met six times, with the Illini holding a 5-1 advantage. The last time the teams met in 1974, the Golden Bears came way with a 31-14 upset victory in Champaign over No. 14-ranked Illinois.