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Stock watch: Iowa football post-Illinois

ISM and Kristian Welch are on the rise following a senior day win. Who else’s stock is up and whose is down?

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Nebraska Week — if you even want to designate a week to that program — but before things kick off on Friday, let’s take a look at the Iowa football Stock Watch following the 19-10 win over Illinois on Nov. 23.

Stock up: Linebacker Kristian Welch

Man, is it great to have Kristian Welch back.

Welch balled out in his return against Minnesota on Nov. 16, and his play continued into Iowa’s game against Illinois.

Welch finished with a career-high 12 tackles (10 solo), one sack, and one forced fumble. His tackle count ranked as his best in a game this season.

It was the second straight game in which Welch notched double-digit tackles. In the past two weeks, Welch has accounted for 23 tackles (16 solo), three tackles for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, and he’s defended a pass.

Despite playing in only eight of Iowa’s 11 games so far this season, Welch leads the team in tackles with 69. He’s led Iowa in tackles during six of those games.

There are two Hawkeyes with at least five tackles for a loss, two passes defended, and a forced fumble this season: A.J. Epenesa and Welch.

Welch has been fantastic for Iowa, especially as of late.

Stock down: Iowa’s running game

The Hawkeyes struggled to move the ball on the ground against the Illini.

Tyler Goodson was Iowa’s leading rusher, netting 38 yards on 21 carries (1.8 yards per attempt). Toren Young added seven yards on three carries.

Iowa finished with 79 rushing yards – the third-fewest yards in a game this season for the Hawkeyes behind Penn State (70) and Michigan (1). In fact, opposing defenses have held Iowa to fewer than 100 rushing yards on four occasions this season. Iowa is 1-3 in those games.

Subsequently, Iowa also finished with its third-worst yards per carry mark (2.5). Nov. 23 marked the eight game this season in which an opponent held Iowa to less than four yards per carry.

Illinois’ defense, while vastly improved, still isn’t great. Following their win over the Hawkeyes, the Illini are one of five teams in the conference to have given up more than 2,000 rushing yards this season. Illinois has allowed 2,041 – an average of 185.5 a game. Iowa wasn’t even able to gain half that mark.

Iowa’s effort on the ground against Illinois highlighted yet another pedestrian rushing performance this season – a reoccurring theme through 11 games.

Stock up: Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Prior to Iowa’s win over Illinois, Ihmir Smith-Marsette had three consecutive games with fewer than 50 receiving yards.

His response? A career-high 121 yards – 31 more yards than those games combined.

Smith-Marsette cranked out a whopping 30.3 yards per catch against Illinois, his second game this year with a yards-per-catch mark of 28 or better.

Smith-Marsette was on the receiving end of this insane play by Stanley. I could watch this play 100 times and never get sick of it.

In his two previous seasons with the Hawkeye program, Smith-Marsette hadn’t totaled 100 receiving yards in a game. He’s done that twice this season.

Stock down: Wide receiver Oliver Martin

Fullback Brady Ross has more touches this season (seven) than Oliver Martin (six).