HOUSTON (AP) — Illinois figured the best way to beat Baylor would be to establish the run early.
Mikel Leshoure had 184 yards rushing and a career-high three touchdowns, and Illinois earned its first bowl victory since 1999 with a 38-14 win over Baylor on Wednesday night in the Texas Bowl.
Illinois finished with 291 yards rushing and 533 yards of total offense to give coach Ron Zook his first bowl win as a head coach in his fourth try.
The Illini spoiled the Bears' first bowl appearance in 16 seasons. Both teams finished 7-6.
Leshoure, who set five school records, had a 5-yard TD run in the second quarter, a 13-yard score in the third quarter and another 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
The performance gave him school records for single-season rushing yards (1,697), single-season scoring (122 points), total touchdowns in a season (20), 100-yard rushing games in a season (9) and consecutive 100-yard games (5).
"I can't even really put it into words," he said. "First of all winning and ... now that it's the end of the season and I found out I broke those records it feels good. I'm proud of myself and I'm proud of my teammates and coaches."
The Illini built a 24-0 lead and Leshoure's last touchdown put the game out of reach.
Zook was informed late in the game that Leshoure needed 23 yards to set the rushing record.
"All we had to do was tell the offensive line and (quarterback) Nathan (Scheelhaase) that ... and they did the rest," Zook said.
Baylor's Robert Griffin III threw for 306 yards and a touchdown, but his two fumbles in the first half put the Bears behind.
Baylor coach Art Briles couldn't focus on the strides his team made this season in finishing with its first winning record since 1995.
"It's hard right now. It really is," he said. "Anytime you don't get the result that's desired, it doesn't feel good. It's a bad feeling. It's a bad feeling to have your face turned red."
Senior safety Byron Landor was more optimistic.
"I am pretty happy about the future of Baylor," he said. "I think we have sent them in the right direction. It's something that in 16 years hasn't happened so it's a great honor."
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