The Iowa Hawkeyes are pushing very close to the apathy line among the team’s fanbase. With each passing week, the full season outlook fails to improve after fans entered the year expecting a team that could look to repeat last year’s Big Ten West division title.
Instead, a top-5 defense nationally and an elite special team’s unit continues to be weighed down by one of the worst offenses in the country. Any glimmers of magic against #4 Michigan team a week ago were nearly dashed when the game was announced as an 11am kickoff and fully crushed when the Wolverines marched down the field 75 yards on their opening drive burning several minutes off the clock.
Now the Hawkeyes sit at 3-2 with a road trip for a night game in Champaign, Illinois on deck. It’s not a must win game, but it’s a can’t lose game if Iowa wants to keep fan apathy from fully taking over and hopes of a better than terrible season are to stay afloat.
In year’s past, that would have seemed like an easy task. The Illini have long been a gimme game for Iowa and most of the West. The Hawkeyes have taken home eight straight wins over the Illini and have done so in virtually every way imaginable.
But this is not your typical Illini team. Illinois comes in ranked top-5 nationally in scoring and total defense while averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. They just beat Wisconsin into firing Paul Chryst and have a renewed confidence we haven’t seen since the early seasons of the Kirk Ferentz era in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes will have their work cut out for them as they look to slow down the nation’s leading rusher, Chase Brown. On the other side of the ball, a STRUGGLING Iowa offense will need to bottle the limited success they found in the waning minutes against Michigan to be able to finally improve on the miserable output we’ve come to expect.
As we prepare for kickoff, here’s a reminder of the details for today’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
Weather Forecast: temps in the mid-50s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Sportsbook Line: Illinois -3.5, O/U 36.5
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
If you’re looking for a refresher on the details of today’s game, be sure to check out our coverage from throughout the week, starting with the Game Center.
Matchup to Watch: Iowa’s Rush Defense vs. Chase Brown
Stat to Watch: Just Be Disciplined
Game Preview: Iowa vs. Illinois Preview
Staff Predictions: The Pants Predicts: Iowa at Illinois
If you’re on the go and would rather listen to Hawkeye talk, be sure to check out the BHGP podcast feed. There are three new episodes up this week already with more to come today. You can find those wherever you get your podcasts, or by clicking below.
**NEW this year: we’ll also be hosting Twitter Spaces before and after the game. Be sure to tune in to @BHGP to get live, up to date news and analysis on things like injuries, warmup reports and more starting at 8am CT. We’ll hop back on live after the final gun to do the victory polka or wallow in our sorrows with you all.**