The buzz: Despite losing starting quarterback Wes Lunt to a broken leg in October, Illinois won its final two games to clinch bowl eligibility. Lunt had 1,729 yards passing and 14 touchdowns. Reilly O'Toole stepped in and has passed for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns. The Illini's rushing attack ranked No. 114 in the nation at only 117.1 yards per game. Illinois is looking to improve to 9-9 in bowl games and earn its first postseason victory since 2011, and Coach Tim Beckman is looking for his first bowl victory at the school. Louisiana Tech used a five-game midseason winning streak to punch its ticket to the bowl. Skip Holtz's team fell to Marshall, 26-23, in the Conference USA title game, keeping the game close despite losing five players to suspensions. Quarterback Cody Sokol, an Iowa transfer, was selected the conference's newcomer of the year after turning the Bulldogs into a big-play offense. Tailback Kenneth Dixon also has been a force for Louisiana Tech, which hit a peak during a 76-31 victory over Rice on Nov. 29. The Bulldogs are seeking their first bowl victory since 2008.