The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off their second loss of the 2022 season and their first loss in conference play, but the offense showed some signs of life against Michigan in week five. The Hawkeyes managed just 14 points, but the running backs averaged ~3.3 yards per carry (the total rushing yardage is skewed by sacks) and Spencer Petras had his best statistical performance in roughly a year.
It wasn’t enough to get a win against yet another top-5 opponent inside Kinnick Stadium (shout-out once again to FOX for helping Michigan avoid the death trap that is Kinnick after dark), but it was enough to pull Iowa out of last place nationally in total offense. It was progress, in some form or fashion.
Now the Hawkeyes move on to another road game in conference play as they travel to Champaign, Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. The Illini are fresh off a 34-10 drubbing of the Wisconsin Badgers, which was enough to cost Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst his job, despite a 65% winning percentage while with the Badgers to go with 2 coach of the year awards, 3 West titles and his $11M buyout.
Illinois comes in with a 4-1 record, their lone blemish a road loss to Indiana in week two. They’re rushing for just under 200 yards a game and their defense is giving up just under 8.5 points per game, less than Iowa’s after the 27 points the Hawkeyes gave up to Michigan a week ago.
The dominating performance against Wisconsin, combined with Illinois’ ability to establish the run while Iowa has struggled to establish anything related to offense (other than not having an offense) has led to the Illini being favored by 3.5 points out of the gate at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Here’s an early look at what you need to know about this week’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, October 8th
Time: 6:30 pm CT
Matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1) at Illinois Fighting Illini (4-1, 1-1)
Location: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Preliminary Weather Forecast: temps in the mid-50s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: Illinois -3.5, O/U 35.5
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Despite Illinois having the in-season momentum, the series momentum has been all Iowa’s for the better part of a decade. The Hawkeyes have won the last eight matchups in the series to bring the all-time record to 38-37-2 in favor of Illinois. A win on Saturday would bring the all-time records dead even.
It would also inch the Hawkeyes closer to the longest winning streak in the series history. Currently, that honor sits with the Illini, who won 12 straight games from 1942 to 1967. At eight straight for Iowa currently, the Hawkeyes might be able to match the high water mark before head coach Kirk Ferentz calls it a career.
Ferentz has feasted on the Illini during his 23 seasons. After losing the first two matchups of his coaching career, Iowa has won 13 of the last 14 meetings to push Kirk’s all-time record against Illinois to 13-3. Two of those three losses have come in Champaign. The Illini last won a game in the series back in 2008 on their home turf.
Despite the commanding lead over Illinois, Feretnz has a bit less stellar record against their new(ish) head coach Bret Beilema. The former Hawkeye is 3-3 all-time against his alma mater. Ferentz won the only matchup between the two since Bert made the move to Champaign. However, Beilema notably came down with COVID ahead of last season’s matchup in Kinnick.
Ferentz is 1-1 all-time against Beilema on the road. Both games were played in Madison against the Badgers.
Preseason Prep Work
As we march toward kick off, be sure to check out our preseason preview for this week’s matchup. There’s loads of important details and unique looks at this week’s opponent, including these great stats:
704 yards: Artur Sitkowski’s passing numbers. He’s the only returning QB on the roster and figures to back up Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito after suffering a season injury in the greatest football game of all time. The lesson here is that it is possible to have a worst QB situation than Iowa’s!
29:19: Illinois’ time of possession in 2021, which ranked 83rd. It’s well below where Bielema would like it, given his preferred style of play. In every season he was head coach of Wisconsin, the Badgers were in the top 25 (often top 5!) of time of possession.
1005 yards: Chase Brown is one of four Big Ten returning running backs who exceeded 1000 yards in 2021. Perhaps what is most impressive is he did it in just 10 games, including two 200+ yard performances. He averaged 5.9 yards/carry.
Here’s a look at the preseason predictions for this one:
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, Unanimous
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 95% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa 21.08, Illinois 15.49 (Iowa +5.60), 58.97% chance of Iowa win
Stay tuned all week as we dive deeper on the players, matchups and stats to know as the Hawkeyes face off with the Illini.