Eliot coached many fine Illinois teams, but his greatest achievement was undoubtedly leading the surprising 1946 Illini to glory. After an opening win over Pitt the Illini dropped two of the next three games, to Notre Dame and Indiana, scoring only a combined thirteen points in those defeats. Despondent over the lackluster start Eliot tended his resignation, only to have athletics director and basketball coach Donald Mills refuse. Instead Mills appealed to the football players directly, informing them that their poor start had prompted their coach to resign and challenging them to improve their play. The strategy succeeded. Most of the Illini squad consisted of relatively unknown and unheralded commodities. But a few exceptional standouts answered the call and led the team in an unlikely run to Pasadena.
The Illini marched sixty yards on their first possession for a score. The rout began with quarterback Perry Moss tossing a 44-yard completion to halfback Julius Rykovich. After a kickoff return set UCLA up at midfield Case responded in kind with a 40-yard strike to his diminutive but elusive halfback Al Hoisch. When the Bruins scored to take an early 7-6 lead the 90,000-strong crowd sensed an epic in the making. Instead they witnessed Illinois shifting gears and leaving UCLA behind.
[Sources: Buddy Young, Wiki; Art Dufelmeier obit, State Record-Journal; Alex Agase obituary, St. Petersberg Times; Doug Cartland, Ray Eliot; 1947 Rose Bowl, Rockford Register-Star]