It’s Official: It’ll be the UCLA Bruins vs. the Illinois Fighting Illini at the “KRAFT Fight Hunger Bowl” Dec 31 at AT&T Park

See? This is the news that came out last night:

Get all the deets after the jump, but before that, see me try to puzzle out who would play from five days back:

The annual Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (that new name is starting to sound normal to me already) is a coming to the Phone Booth on Saturday, December 31st, 2011.

Where else will you watch an NCAA bowl game in NorCal?

Get your tickets now

Oh, what’s that, you want to know who’s playing this year? Well, let’s look to the past:

2010 — Nevada 20, Boston College 13
2009 — USC 24, Boston College 13
2008 — California 24, Miami 17
2007 — Oregon State 21, Maryland 14
2006 — Florida State 44, UCLA 27
2005 — Utah 38, Georgia Tech 10
2004 — Navy 34, New Mexico 19
2003 — Boston College 35, Colorado State 21
2002 — Virginia Tech 20, Air Force 13

As you can see, sort of, there’s gotta be a Pac-12 team on the field – that’s current rule.

Here’s one stab at it:

“Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl 
December 31, 2011 San Francisco, CA, 3:30 pm ESPN 
Payout: $1.675 million
Pac-12 No. 6 vs. Army (WAC if Army not available)”

But it looks like their prediction has recently changed, based on this:

“Scout’s 2011 bowl prediction for the Illini has them heading out San Francisco to participate in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. There, Scout predicts, the Illini would take on the UCLA Bruins, who would be 6-7 on the season and also likely minus its coach as well. Two teams with a combined record of 12-13 and without head coaches doesn’t exactly sound like the most appetizing match up, but such is one of the downsides of the current bowl system.”

So, as recently as yesterday, some people were thinking it could be this squad…

Click to expand

…versus this one, the crew from Illinois. (You know, they’re looking for men, as always.)

All right, see you there!

All right, all the deets after the jump

UCLA to Face Illinois In 2nd Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

The UCLA Bruins, champions of the Pac-12 South division, will meet the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park.

Dec. 4, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – The UCLA Bruins, champions of the Pac-12 South division, will meet the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park. The Bruins and Illini will play Saturday, December 31, 2011 with a 12:30 p.m. [PST]/3:30 p.m. [EST] kickoff. ESPN will televise the game to a nationwide audience.

Game tickets are available by accessing the Bowl’s website [], by calling 800.225.2277 or at the AT&T Park Ticket Office.

Bowl co-founder and the game’s only Executive Director, Gary Cavalli, noted the Bruins’ return to San Francisco. UCLA met Florida State in the 2006 contest, then known as the Emerald Bowl. The Seminoles rallied for a 44-27 victory in an offensive showcase that produced Bowl records still in place today.

“We’re thrilled to bring UCLA back to San Francisco,” Cavalli said. “The Bruins played in our 2006 game against Florida State, and we had a great experience with Dan Guerrero and the entire UCLA family. That 2006 game was a classic matchup of two premier programs that had never met before on the gridiron. It was also our first sellout and we anticipate another big crowd at AT&T Park on New Year’s Eve.

“We are also extremely happy to have Illinois come to us and produce a Pac-12/Big Ten matchup for the first time in our history. Illinois brings a great tradition to the Bay Area and this is a wonderful chance for all the Fighting Illini alumni in Northern California to see their team as well.”

The Illini opened the 2011 season 6-0 and among its early-season triumphs was a stirring 38-35 decision over in-state rival Northwestern.

Illinois’s defense is among the Big Ten’s best. Allowing just 291.8 yards/game, the Illini was second in the conference, trailing only Michigan State and just ahead of conference champion Wisconsin. Illinois was third against the run [129.1] and second against the pass [159.1]. The Illini also rang up 36 QB sacks, second only to the Spartans’ 41.

Senior A.J. Jenkins [84-1,196-7 TD] led all Big Ten receivers in total receptions and was second overall in receiving yardage. Junior Whitney Mercilus led the Big Ten in sacks with 14.5 total, 13 of those unassisted. He is one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Sophomore LB Jonathan Brown led his team with 102 total tackles [43 unassisted, 59 assists].

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to be the first Big Ten team to go to San Francisco and play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said Illinois interim coach Vic Koenning. “Even though it’s only been around for ten years, this game has had a number of quality matchups. We are glad to become a part of the bowl’s tradition. This is a great honor and a tremendous opportunity for us.”

UCLA’s rushing offense ranked third in the Pac-12, 190.7 yards/game. The Bruins’ pass defense also was third in the conference, permitting 232.6 yards/game, bettered only by Cal & Oregon State.

UCLA’s 5-4 regular season conference record bettered that of 20 bowl-eligible teams.

Junior RB Johnathan Franklin [158-947-6 TD] led all UCLA rushers. Junior QB Kevin Prince played in 10 games overall [112-195-1,627-10 TD-7 INT], missing three due to injury. Senior WR Nelson Rosario [61-1,106-4 TD] was UCLA’s leading receiver. His 18.1 yards/catch average tied for first among Pac-12 receivers.

“On behalf of the UCLA coaching staff and players, I want to express our excitement over being offered an opportunity to continue our season in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said interim coach Mike Johnson. “The next few weeks will offer all of us associated with the Bruin football team an opportunity to grow, individually and collectively, as we prepare for the challenge that is ahead of us.

“I am very familiar with the Bay Area and know that all of us will enjoy our trip and the opportunity to compete again in a bowl game.”

UCLA and Illinois have played each other 11 previous times. The Bruins have won six times to five for the Illini. The most recent meeting came in 2004, a 35-17 UCLA victory in Champaign, IL. The teams also met in the 1984 Rose Bowl when QB Rick Neuheisel guided the Bruins to a 45-9 triumph. Illinois looks for a win over UCLA for the first time since 1964.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is the only bowl game dedicated to raising money and awareness about the issue of hunger in the United States. Kraft Foods celebrates the culmination of its Huddle To Fight Hunger campaign at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in four weeks. It is Kraft’s largest-ever branded initiative to fight hunger in America, with an ambitious goal to donate 25 million meals to Feeding America – the nation’s leading hunger relief organization – to help our neighbors in need.

“Kraft Foods would like to congratulate these two standout universities on being selected to take part in the second annual Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said Stephen Chriss, Senior Director, Consumer Engagement & Marketing Partnerships, Kraft Foods.

“The game provides a great opportunity for us to show our appreciation to millions of consumers and retail partners across the country for huddling with us this football season to help our neighbors in need.”

Joining the Huddle and supporting the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl are several of Kraft Foods’ biggest brand superstars, including Planters nuts, Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, Capri Sun beverages, Oscar Mayer meats, Maxwell House coffee, Kraft Real Mayo Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip Dressing, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Kraft cheese.

Since its inception in 2002, the annual college football bowl game in San Francisco [nee Emerald Bowl] has generated more than $120 million in revenue for the City and County.

Four of the previous five games have been sellouts, led by the standing-room-only 42,268 who viewed the ’08 game between Cal and Miami. Last year, 41,063 spectators braved pregame showers and saw Nevada turn back Boston College.

About San Francisco Bowl Association The not-for-profit association has been the driving force behind the Bowl game since its inception in 2002. In that time, the game, played at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, has generated over $120 million in economic impact for the City and County of San Francisco. Several of college football’s most storied programs have already participated in the contest, formerly known as the Emerald Bowl. They include onetime national champions USC, Miami and Florida State, plus California, Boston College, UCLA, Oregon State, Utah and Nevada.

About Kraft Foods Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) is a global snacks powerhouse with an unrivaled portfolio of brands people love. Proudly marketing delicious biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in approximately 170 countries, Kraft Foods had 2010 revenue of $49.2 billion. Twelve of the company’s iconic brands – Cadbury, Jacobs, Kraft, LU, Maxwell House, Milka, Nabisco, Oreo, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Tang and Trident – generate revenue of more than $1 billion annually. On Aug. 4, 2011, Kraft Foods announced plans to divide and create two independent public companies: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business. The transaction will take at least 12 months to complete, during which time plans regarding the structure, management, governance and other matters will be announced. A leader in innovation, marketing, health & wellness and sustainability, Kraft Foods is a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor’s 500, Dow Jones Sustainability Index and Ethibel Sustainability Index. Visit and

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