Illinois and Mississippi State to Square Off In ReliaQuest Bowl

December 4, 2022

Tampa, FL- The ReliaQuest Bowl will feature the Illinois Illini and No. 22 ranked Mississippi State facing off on January 2nd in Tampa, bowl officials announced today. It will be only the second meeting in history for the two teams that last played in 1980 and the first time since 1991 for Illinois to appear in the bowl.

"We are excited to extend an invitation to the University of Illinois and the Mississippi State University to play in this year's ReliaQuest Bowl," said ReliaQuest Bowl Chair Troy Atlas. "These are two quality teams that we expect will produce an exciting match-up fans are really going to enjoy. We look forward to hosting the teams and their fans and ensure they will have an amazing experience at the game and enjoying the dynamic Tampa Bay area."

"We are grateful to accept an invitation to the ReliaQuest Bowl," stated Illini Head Coach Bret Bielema. "The ReliaQuest Bowl is a first-class bowl that will give our program an opportunity to play a very good SEC opponent in Mississippi State with a national spotlight in a big-game atmosphere. Our program is excited to make the most of the experiences the ReliaQuest Bowl presents for our players, staff, and fans. This will be a great reward to finish the 2022 season and catapult us into 2023. I couldn't be more excited about this program where we're at, but more importantly, where we're going."

"The University of Illinois is pleased to accept the invitation to play in Tampa's ReliaQuest Bowl on January 2," added Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman. "Coach Bielema, our coaches and staff, and our team members have worked tirelessly since their arrival on our campus for the opportunity to compete in a game with the history, reputation, and platform of the ReliaQuest Bowl. I am proud of our program's progress and congratulate everyone associated with Illinois Football, including our alumni, fans, and students, for earning this exciting opportunity in Tampa. I encourage Fighting Illini fans across the country to make plans to join us in Florida, and I look forward to seeing a sea of orange and blue in Raymond James Stadium."

"We are excited to play in the ReliaQuest Bowl against a quality, well-coached Illinois team," MSU head football coach Mike Leach said. "We look forward to continue competing, improving and building on the positive momentum surrounding our program. Our players and coaches are excited for the practices and preparation ahead."

"Mississippi State is thrilled to be a part of the ReliaQuest Bowl and compete in a bowl game for the 13th consecutive season," Interim MSU Director of Athletics Bracky Brett said. "Coach Leach and his program have built a ton of momentum over the past month, and we look forward to seeing a strong contingent of Bulldog fans throughout the city of Tampa to close the year."

The ReliaQuest Bowl will be played on Monday January 2nd at 12:00 PM ET at Raymond James Stadium. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster online at

Priority membership seats are available directly through the ReliaQuest Bowl office at (813) 874-BOWL with details on the bowl web site at

About the ReliaQuest Bowl:

The ReliaQuest Bowl, featuring teams from the Big Ten Conference and Southeastern Conference, is played in Raymond James Stadium and will celebrate its 37th game on January 2, 2022. Over its history it has brought more than a million out of market visitors to the region while creating an estimated $1.1 billion in economic impact and distributing $164 million to universities. It has also contributed more than $3 million to 160 charities since 2016. For information on the bowl go to or call 813-874-BOWL.