Virginia is still 0 for Florida.
Quarterback Kurt Kittner ran for a score, threw two touchdown passes and caught another as Illinois defeated the Cavaliers, 63-21, Thursday night in the Micronpc.com Bowl.
The loss was Virginia’s fifth in five bowl games in Florida.
Illinois capped a remarkable turnaround under third-year Coach Ron Turner. The Illini went 0-11 two years ago and finished 3-8 last season. After the game, several Illini players jumped into the stands to celebrate with their fans.
“I told the guys it’s not the end, it’s the beginning,” Turner said.
The Illini (8-4) beat Michigan and Ohio State on the road this year and won the most games since 1990. The season ended Thursday on a four-game winning streak capped by their most complete game of the year.
Illinois scored nine touchdowns on 13 possessions. The defense held Virginia’s Thomas Jones, the nation’s No. 3 rusher, to 110 yards on the ground. And on special teams, the Illini blocked two punts that set up touchdowns.
“I have no explanation,” Virginia Coach George Welsh said. “I’m embarrassed by that performance; I’m absolutely bewildered. We got whacked on defense, then it was a snowball running downhill.”
Virginia finished 7-5.
Kittner, a sophomore, scored on a one-yard bootleg on the opening drive. He also threw two touchdowns in the first half. But his best play may have come on a perfectly executed reverse to Brandon Lloyd which ended with Lloyd connecting with him on a touchdown pass.
Illinois, playing in its first bowl game since 1994, scored its most points in a bowl game and its most points in a game since 1989. It also was a record for the Micronpc.com Bowl, previously called the Carquest and the Blockbuster.