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Iowa Hawkeyes 63, Illinois Fighting Illini 0: The Return of Tight End U

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I thought Smackdown was on Tuesdays?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Most of you know the deal by now. I write all of this in real time and I don’t edit before posting because editing is for Monday’s and (now) basketball recaps. Be nice.


Well, hello there folks. Happy Saturday to you all. I hope you spent your morning and early afternoon doing as much as humanly possible to makes yourself happy because I don’t think we’re going to get too much of that going into this game against Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini. According to the bookmaker I used, Iowa is a 16-point favorite, so either we were always supposed to annihalte this team... OR... we’re going to be extremely disappointed for allowing Illinois to stay in this for way longer than they should have.

Either way, I already wish I would have bought two more Ducks Donuts just to add a bit of joy to this experience.

And just like that, on the second snap of the game, Nate Stanley tried fitting a pass into Brandon Smith, the ball gets tipped and intercepted. Not even 40-seconds in and I’m about ready to watch a replay of Iowa and Oregon from the 2K Empire Classic instead of this.

After an Illinois turnover on downs, a pooch punt from Nate Stanley that was downed at the 2-yard line, another punt from Illinois, Iowa started with the ball on the Illini’s 39-yard line. If you could get one point for winning field position battles and QB pooch punts, Iowa would be up two-to-nil... which might be enough to win this game outright.

According to the Hawk-Gawd Scotty Docht, Iowa has played with two tight ends on every drive thus far... including the eventual touchdown to Noah Fant after he found a free release after a quick rub from TJ Hockenson. Weird how well that works, huh?

7-0, Iowa.

A quick aside: Why is “Iowa Twitter” as a collective ok with laughing away this Fant stuff? Why are people saying everything is right in the world again? Why am I being asked to calm down about it? Because Kirk and Brian decided to over do it this week after getting slammed by running two tights all game long to put 50 on Illinois, I’m supposed to be cool with that?

Naw. That doesn’t make any of this ok. It makes it even more frustrating because it was always right there for them. And in a season that was up for grabs, it’s too little too late.

I digress, although, maybe I should keep going, because in the time it took me to write that, both Illinois and Iowa punted. Oh, and Brian decided to roll out a three tight end set. Talk about triggered.

Time to wave.


BTW, Noah Fant played every offensive snap that first quarter. Every. Single. One.

After a nice run after the catch by Brandon Smith and some juice from Mekhi Sargent to give Iowa a first and goal, they give him the ball one more time on a zone lead left who punches it in for the score.

14-0, and Iowa has used two tight ends on every play but one... according to Docht.

A few plays later, Chauncey Golston forces a fumble and Maui scoops and scores from the 19-yard line.

21-0, sing it JP!

He wasn’t done there. On the very next snap for Illinois, Maui lands home for a 5-yard sack. I know I’ve been a little negative about some of the offensive issues (Did you know i’m a little upset about the tight end usage?), but AJE is truly something special. I’m excited to see how he takes the reigns next season as the undisputed captain of this Iowa defense from his running mate, Parker Hesse. After another off season with Chris Doyle, he truly has the opportunity to be one of the all time greats not only at Iowa, but in the Big Ten.

Back to the game and what do you know, Iowa blocks Illinois punt and eventually finds TJ Hockenson for an 11-yard touchdown.

28-0, and Iowa has scored three touchdowns in three minutes. ‘Member when the Illini had Juice?

After another Illinois punt, Nate Stanley would eventually find TJ Hockenson for a 40-yard touchdown. So far, Iowa’s tight ends have combined for 102-yards and three touchdowns.

35-0 and we really, really need a running clock for the second half.

To end the half, Michael Ojemudia intercepts A.J. Bush on Iowa’s two yard line, Iowa punts, Illinois punts and Iowa runs out the clock on a... squints... fumblerooski from victory formation? Kirk really is in eff it mode, huh?


To start the second half, it looks like rain will be a bit of a factor... more so for the Illini. It also appears that everyone in Champaign has decided to be anywhere else in the world outside of Memorial Stadium:

To open up the second half, the Illini started off right where they left off, with another punt, only this time there was a penalty, Ferentz made them kick again and Kyle Groeneweg returned it 61-yards for a touchdown. Poor Illinois, I feel like they missed the punting contest against Iowa by a week.

42-0, Mansell time?

On the next Illini possession, Bush lays one up there and Amani Hooker picks it off and almost took it to the house after Maui leveled someone. Iowa takes over at the Illinois 20 and I sincerely hope — and this is going to sound really weird from me — that they just run the zone the rest of the game to get this over with as soon as possible.

And that’s pretty much exactly what Iowa does after a Toren Young touchdown.

It’s 49-0, and we’re headed to the 4th.


On Iowa’s first offensive possession of the 4th, Peytone Mansell and the backup offensive line are in the game. After a damn near pick-6, Mansell completes a pass on third down before Sargent scoots for a 30-yard touchdown run. Illinois didn’t even bother trying to tackle him.

56-0 with over 11-minutes left in the game and Sargent has 91-rushing yards for the game. CAN. HE. DO. THE. IMPOSSIBLE... and get over 100-rushing yards for the first time in a long, long time?

After another Illinois punt, Sargent gets to 109 rushing yards on Iowa’s second play of the very next series. If only Illinois was Northwestern and Purdue and Penn State.

Iowa scored again. This time it was Toren Young for his second touchdown of the day. This, according to Mark Emmert, is the biggest win over Illinois for Iowa and the most points in a Big Ten game under Ferentz. It also means that Iowa covered the 58.5 point spread by themselves. I hope you all cashed in.

63-0 and you know what’s on everyone’s mind at this point...

But, Iowa runs out of time to make it happen.

What’s done is done at this point and I guess this is a nice thing in a season with not many nice things to be happy about. So go enjoy yourself a nice beverage and stay warm and safe out there people.

Play the damn polka.

L’chaim.