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>> Illini Thin At RB Position Ahead of Bowl Game

Illinois may be very thin at running back when it takes on UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Interim Illini head coach Vic Koenning said Tuesday that starting tailback Jason Ford is among a handful of players who may not be academically eligible for the game.

1 of the three backs who play behind Ford, Josh Ferguson, is expected to apply for a redshirt after missing much of the season.

That would leave another freshman, Donovonn Young, and senior Troy Pollard at back. And young is coming off an ankle injury.

Koenning also said starting fullback Jay Prosch is hospitalized with a staph infection that required knee surgery.

School officials aren't sure how or where Prosch became infected. They say no other players are ill.

>> Weber: Struggling Illini Now In Underdog Role

Illinois coach Bruce Weber says he's told his players that after two rough games the Illini will be clear underdogs when they face No. 9 Missouri on Thursday in St. Louis.

The 25th-ranked Illini (11-1) had to come from behind to beat Cornell Monday. That was after a 64-48 loss to UNLV on Saturday.

After some early production from some of the six freshmen on its roster Illinois has stopped getting points or much of anything else from its young bench.

Weber says those young players have hit a wall.

Weber said the biggest thing Illinois will have to avoid against the Tigers (11-0) is giving up big runs. Cornell used a 21-4 run to jump out to a 10-point lead in the first half Monday

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