- Josh Moyer, Penn State/Big Ten reporter
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Our very own tournament marches on with the final game of the afternoon, in a rivalry that dates all the way back to 1899: Iowa vs. Illinois.
The winner of this game will move on to face the victor of the No. 3 Wisconsin-No. 14 Indiana matchup. Vote early and often; polls close midnight Wednesday.
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Illinois
Iowa: Rich history, good food, loud crowds -- there’s plenty to like about Iowa City’s game day atmosphere. Like most destinations, the real atmosphere starts in the parking lots where fans buy turkey legs on Melrose Avenue before heading to the pregame concert inside the Rec Building. Players and coaches will touch the 20-foot statue of football legend Nile Kinnick before entering Kinnick Stadium, where fans will listen to Kinnick’s moving 1939 Heisman acceptance speech on the big screen before every home game. Inside, fans will line up behind the visitors’ bench -- so close they can reach out and grab the opponents -- to make the stadium a truly intimidating venue. They’ll chant I-O-W-A after every touchdown, sit entranced at the pregame intro and hope to hear the Hawkeye Victory Polka at game’s end. Plus, opponents are still treated to a pink visitors’ locker room.
Illinois: Memorial Stadium was home to one of the greatest college football players who ever lived, Red Grange, and Illinois celebrates that. Players will touch the “Grange Rock,” which was dedicated in 1994, on their way to the field. And fans can snap a photo of the 12-foot Grange statue outside the stadium. Inside, Illinois is known for their Block I’s card stunts -- although it’s sometimes difficult to do with the scarce student crowd. The Marching Illini’s pregame show remains a fan favorite and it’s difficult to go long without hearing someone yell “I-L-L” and someone else returning, “I-N-I.” The stadium was about two-thirds full for the average game last season.
The Big Ten game-day settings tournament continues with a 6-11 matchup between Iowa and Illinois.