UCLA and Illinois square off in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Year's Eve. Although this bowl game is only in its 10th year of existence, it is developing a very positive reputation.
The game has been a sellout in four of the past five years, and bowl organizers are hoping for another big crowd. The participants in this year's game are UCLA, from the Pac-12, and Illinois, from the Big Ten. There is already a built-in conference rivalry, and this promises to be an exciting game.
I interviewed executive director Gary Cavalli, who is one of the co-founders of this bowl game. He was thrilled to be able to attract two big-name teams from these two conferences and match them against each other.
The conference rivalry stems from the Rose Bowl, when the then-Pac-10 champion always played the Big Ten champion. I will discuss each team later in this article, but first I want to delve deeper into why this is such a great game.
Kraft Foods, Inc. is the title sponsor for this bowl game and has been since 2010. Kraft uses this as one of its focal points in its effort to fight hunger across the country.
The "Huddle To Fight Hunger" campaign is a group effort between Kraft, football and Feeding America. In 2010, this charity provided 20 million meals to those in need. The 2011 goal is to increase that to 25 million meals served.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl donates three meals for every ticket sold. In 2010, when Boston College played Nevada, there were approximately 40,000 fans in attendance, which meant 120,000 meals provided.
According to Cavalli, who has been the executive director of this bowl game since its inception over nine years ago, they would like to see 45,000 fans at the game and would be able to donate 135,000 meals to the hungry.
Let's now take a look at the upcoming 2011 game between UCLA and Illinois.