Mississippi State defeats Illinois in ReliaQuest Bowl after exciting final seconds

Mississippi State defeats Illinois in ReliaQuest Bowl originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After a heartwarming honor to head coach Mike Leach, who died on Dec. 12, the Mississippi State Bulldogs left everything on the field today. 

Mississippi State defeated Illinois 19-10 during Monday afternoon’s ReliaQuest Bowl. This marked the Bulldogs' first nine-win season since 2017 and their first win against a Big Ten enemy since the end of the 2010 season.

Mississippi State entered the game in full force, while on the other side of the field, Illinois lacked its top corners who opted out for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Illinois opened the fixture with Tommy DeVito stumbling into the end zone for a 2-yard TD run with only two minutes left in the first quarter.

Just before halftime, the Bulldogs put something on the board after a field goal from Massimo Biscardi from 38 yards out. The Fighting Illini led 7-3 at the half.

In the fourth quarter, Mississippi State tied it up with a fourth down touchdown by Justin Robinson, followed by a game-winning field goal by Massimo Biscardi with only seconds to spare, raising Mississippi’s lead to 13-10.

In the final minutes, cornerback Marcus Banks scored a touchdown during Illinois’ final lateral play, ultimately clinching the victory for the Bulldogs. 

This was the Illini's third-straight Bowl loss. Their last postseason win came at the Fighting Hunger Bowl against UCLA in 2011.