When Illinois visited Penn State on Sunday afternoon, among those clad in Nittany Lions colors were 120 members of a group pretending to be Big Ten alumni networking in the area for the weekend.
They remained clad in dark blue and white until just after tipoff when they finally stripped off their shirts and revealed their true colors underneath: Illini Orange.
Members of the Illinois student section, the Orange Krush, have pulled this prank at least once a season for years. They posed as a group called Youth Action one year in Ann Arbor. They pretended to be a group of State Farm agents to obtain tickets last season at Northwestern and even managed to infiltrate a halftime tricycle race.
The only snafu with Sunday's prank was that Penn State students knew they were coming. Since one of the Orange Krush's planning emails somehow was leaked to the Penn State fan site "Onward State" last week, the Nittany Lions student section was prepared for the hostile takeover and actually chanted "take it off" several times before tipoff.
Even if the Orange Krush's presence wasn't as big a surprise as usual, the Illinois players were still very appreciative of the support. It's pretty impressive that the students were dedicated enough to make a 13-hour bus ride to support an Illini team that had dropped eight straight games and was last in the Big Ten before its 60-55 victory over Penn State.
"It was actually a surprise for me because I had no idea they were going to be here," Illinois guard Malcolm Hill told the Champaign News-Gazette. "To have our fans come all the way out to Pennsylvania, that means a lot. We needed this win for them."