The Iowa Hawkeyes put together perhaps their best half of football all season when they closed out at 22-0 win over Rutgers a week ago. After a slow start, Iowa ultimately gained a season-high 402 yards of total offense, including another season-high 223 yards passing. The breathing room from the offense allowed the defense to tighten its hold on Rutgers and do what it has always done best: create turnovers.
For the first time all season, we got truly complementary football. And the result is a share of the Big Ten West division title. Now the Hawkeyes look to secure an outright title as they play host to the Illinois Fighting Illini this week.
Illinois, like everyone else in the division not named Iowa or Purdue, comes into the week at 3-4 in the division and tied for second place. While the Hawkeyes will clinch the division and a trip to Indianapolis with another win this season, the Illini too are playing for the division title. They have an opportunity to still win the West with a win over Iowa on Saturday, paired with a win over Northwestern in their finale. Of course, they also need Nebraska to drop one of their two final games, but they are very much alive in the West entering the week.
That’s after living life on the edge a week ago in a 48-45 overtime win over the Indiana Hoosiers. Illinois managed to avoid disaster in a back-and-forth matchup with the Hoosiers that ultimately came down to a defensive failure to give Indiana the chance to make it to overtime. The Illini pulled it out in overtime and after back-to-back tight finishes, they now find themselves in a position to put together an end of season run to win the West.
With so much on the line and the natural ties between the two programs, this week’s matchup is poised to be filled with emotion and grit.
Here’s a quick look at the details for Saturday’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, November 18th
Time: 2:30 pm CT
Matchup: Illinois Fighting Illini (5-5, 3-4) at Iowa Hawkeyes (8-2, 5-2)
Location: Kinnick Stadium- Iowa City, IA
Preliminary Weather Forecast: sunny with temps in the upper-50s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: Iowa -3.5, O/U 30.5
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
The Hawkeyes and Illini will face off for the 79th time on Saturday in a series that dates back to 1899. Illinois holds the all-time series lead at 39-37-2. However, Iowa has been on a roll this millennium having won 13 of 16 meetings between the two programs since the turn of the century. Beyond that, Iowa has won 13 of the last 15 meetings overall and 16 of the last 20.
Despite the recent success, Illinois won the matchup a season ago - a 9-6 rock fight in Champaign. The loss snapped an 8-game winning streak in the series for Iowa.
Of the prior 78 meetings, 40 have been played in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes hold a 20-18-2 all-time record in home games. Notably, the Illini haven’t emerged victorious in the Hawkeye state since 1999 - head coach Kirk Ferentz’s first year in town.
Iowa enters the week at 8-2, marking the 15th time under Ferentz the program has won at least 8 games. They also enter the meeting undefeated in the month of November. Iowa has won 16 of its last 17 games in the month of November dating back to 2019.
As we move toward kickoff on Saturday afternoon, here’s a look at the preseason predictions for this one.
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, 100% of the vote
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 73% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa 15, Illinois 13
Be sure to check back in throughout the week as all preview and postgame stories will be published to this stream.