CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will host the Bleacher Bum Barbecue at Illinois Field on May 8 to kick off a pivotal weekend series against the No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State currently leads the Big Ten at 9-3 in conference play, while the Fighting Illini are only one game behind at 8-4 at the halfway mark of the conference season.
"This event has the opportunity to be one of the best in the nation this year," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We have a great fan base, and a big crowd for this series will give us a huge home-field advantage."
The barbecue begins at 5 p.m. with free food being given to the first 1,000 fans. The game, which starts at 6:05 p.m., will feature free admission for all fans and free parking in any of the lots surrounding Illinois Field. In addition, First Federal will be giving away 1,000 mini-bats to students and children.
Fans also will have the opportunity to enter drawings for a pair of tickets to a Chicago Cubs game and another for a pair of St. Louis Cardinals tickets. Finally, a postgame fireworks show will cap off the evening.
The Illini have started the season 23-11 overall, the fifth-best start in the last 25 years, and have been ranked for four weeks this season. Illinois owns series wins over then-No. 1 LSU and then-No. 23 Minnesota and is 12-4 at home this season.
This series will obviously go a long way in determinng who wins the Big Ten Championship this season as the Bucks look to win their first since 2001. If any Buckeye fan can make the trip I strongly urge you to do so. Be very polite and well behaved when mixing with the Illini faithful, but support and cheer our guys on to victory. Illinois has a new playing surface, the athletic department has installed field turf to their diamond and are in the process of renovating the stands, press box, lighting as Illinois continues to improve their baseball program. Just wanted to pass this on as it was passed to me.