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Rose Bowl appearance caps dramatic turnaround for Illini

Updated: December 31, 2007, 12:46 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Illinois All-America guard Martin O'Donnell remembers how bad the Illini used to be when they'd take the field. Not decades ago, more like months ago.

"Just a couple of years ago, we were trailing by 50 in our homecoming game," O'Donnell said, referring to a 63-10 loss to Penn State in 2005.

Ron Zook was in his first season as the coach of the Illini when the Nittany Lions embarrassed his team at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. Afterward, Zook ...

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