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Has Illinois football ever won a national championship? Yes, several

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NFL at 100 The 1920s

FILE - This is a 1925 file photo showing Chicago Bears football player Harold "Red" Grange. The “Galloping Ghost,” Red Grange, was America’s football icon, but from his years as a college star at Illinois. In 1925, after the Illini’s season concluded, he signed with the Bears and became the top attraction on the pro level. (AP Photo/File)

The field at Illinois' Memorial Stadium is named Zuppke Field. 

There's a reason for that. 

Robert C. Zuppke had a lot of success as the head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini football team from 1913-41. His teams went 131-81 during those 29 seasons. 

And four times, his Illini teams won college football national titles. 

Has Illinois ever won a national championship in football? 

There are five college football national championships claimed by the Illinois football program. They are from 1914, 1919, 1923, 1927, and 1951. 

Those first four teams were all coached by Zuppke. 

In 1914, Illinois went 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. In 1919, Illinois went 6-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten. 

In 1923, the Illini went 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. The 1923 team included All-American halfback Harold "Red" Grange

In 1927, Illinois finished 7-0-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. 

With head coach Ray Eliot in 1951, Illinois went 9-0-1 overall and 5-0-1 in the Big Ten. The team beat Stanford 40-7 in the 1952 Rose Bowl

Eliot was the Illinois football head coach from 1942-59. 

Erik Hall is the digital sports editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik.

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