clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

TCR’s favorite Illinois moments of 2023

A bowl game, Tommy Cutlets, and basketball comebacks.

NCAA Football: ReliaQuest Bowl-Illinois at Mississippi State Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Cohn:

Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any Illinois games in 2023, mostly due to me living in Milwaukee and the football home schedule not being as friendly as 2022 (games in both Madison and Evanston), and due to a big snow storm stopping me from making the trip to the Kohl Center for the basketball game.

So I have to say my favorite moment was the Tommy DeVito craze, and seeing DeVito literally everywhere for a week here in December after he just about ended the Packers’ playoff chances on national TV. Seeing Illini nation rally around one of our guys and the entire actual nation buying in was just a really cool moment, and felt like a major opportunity for the program. We’ll see if it has any impact.

Idrees Kudaimi:

Basketball’s comeback wins vs. Northwestern and Michigan.

Pleas Honeywood:

The Minnesota Miracle will live on forever in my memories as a sports fan. The John Paddock coming out of the bullpen, saving the Illini on 4th and forever, and leading a rapid-fire touchdown drive is why you watch until the final whistle blows. Moments like that are rare, and they remind us why we follow other people playing a kid’s game so passionately.

Will Charlton:

ReliaQuest Bowl, Big Ten Tournament, Oakland vs. Illinois MBB

I’ve been very fortunate with what this website has been able to provide for me.

I’ll start with the ReliaQuest Bowl back in January, which, even though we knew Illinois would probably lose because of Mike Leach, has still been my favorite event to cover for TCR. It was awesome to see the Marching Illini and lots of Illini nation make the trip down for the game.

Covering the Big Ten Tournament in March was surreal as a lifelong Bulls and Blackhawks fan. Walking out on the floor of the United Center was breathtaking to say the least. Unfortunately, of course, the stay was short lived for our beloved orange and blue but nonetheless an incredible experience.

The Oakland game is listed for a different reason. Being a student at Illinois, I’m also heavily involved with Big Ten Plus and was on the call for that game. It was the first-ever regular season men’s basketball game that I’ve called and was unexpectedly a super entertaining affair.

Matt Rejc:

Ditto on the ReliaQuest Bowl. Covering the Illini alongside Will from the press box of an NFL stadium, as they played a hard fought game against a good SEC team, was definitely the highlight of my year. But what gave me the most hope was seeing Luke Altmyer throw the game-saving miracle pass against Toledo in the opening week of this season. This year may not have gotten us what we wanted, but on that night, Luke stepped up against a really good team to save the day. And I doubt that’s the last time it’ll happen.

Ethan Holesha:

My three favorite moments were the John Paddock miracle game, covering Big Ten media days and the overtime win over Indiana. Paddock got thrown into that game against Minnesota out of nowhere and etched himself in Illinois history with that game winning drive. That was by far the most exciting moment of the football season. Paddock earned himself the right to start the rest of the season in his senior year after backing up Altmyer all year. Going to Lucas Oil Stadium and covering Big Ten media days was an awesome opportunity for myself as a journalist. Getting to interview Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. was a great experience. Seeing Ryan Day, James Franklin and Marvin Harrison Jr. in person was surreal. I even got to meet NBC Sports anchor Maria Taylor. The overtime win over Indiana was a magical game. John Paddock had the second most passing yards for an Illinois quarterback in history as he was only the second to eclipse 500 yards. This game was on dad’s weekend so I got to spend the win with friends and family. And what better way to beat Indiana for the first time since 2011 than a dramatic overtime walk off touchdown.