Iowa vs. Illinois prediction and game preview. The Hawkeyes try to ride the high of last week’s victory when it battles the Fighting Illini on Saturday.
Iowa vs. Illinois Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 19 – Noon. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.
TV Broadcast: Big Ten Network
Iowa’s season largely has been a disappointment considering last year’s success, when it was a defensive stop in the conference title game away from going to the College Football Playoff. The Hawkeyes lost to FCS power North Dakota State at home this season and is just 6-4 overall. However, the biggest of those wins came last week, as Iowa stunned previously unbeaten Michigan, 14-13, on a field goal as time expired. It doesn’t erase all the earlier issues, but it sure helps moving forward.
Getting past Illinois should seem like a breeze then. The Fighting Illini are coming off a 48-3 loss to Wisconsin during which they went 0-for-9 on third down and basically were out of it by the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Wes Lunt played for the first time since Oct. 8, but was just as ineffective as Jeff George Jr. That murky situation under center has plagued Illinois most of the year.
What To Know About Iowa
Iowa beat Michigan without playing its best game, finishing with fewer than 300 yards for the third straight contest. What it got was a solid performance from Akrum Wadley – 23 carries for 115 yards – and a great defensive effort after it fell behind 10-0. Michigan gained only 201 yards for the lowest total of any Hawkeyes opponent this season and also turned it over twice. Illinois’ rush defense ranks 10th in the conference, and Iowa will try to exploit that unit with Wadley.
What To Know About Illinois
Lunt had been out with a back injury before dressing against Wisconsin. George still started, but his four interceptions were nearly as many as the five completions to his own teammates. Lunt entered but completed just 2-of-8 throws and couldn’t provide any sort of a spark. It appears Lunt will start what will end up being his final collegiate game, but there’s little reason to believe he’ll be able to guide Illinois to a win.
Offense: Iowa – C.J. Beathard isn’t a great quarterback, but he’s better than the situation at Illinois.
Defense: Iowa – The performance against Michigan was fantastic.
Special Teams: Iowa – Always have to go with Desmond King’s ability.
Coaching: Iowa – One day this might be Lovie Smith getting the nod, but not yet.
Intangibles: Iowa – Illinois hasn’t won a matchup in the series since 2008.
Matchup To Watch
Lunt vs. Iowa’s defense
Lunt was a highly touted prospect out of high school, went to Oklahoma State and won the starting job as a true freshman. But injuries derailed his career, he transferred to his home-state school and has been largely ineffective when on the field. Lunt will be trying to end his career on a positive note.
Spread: Iowa -10
Iowa vs. Illinois Prediction
Wadley runs for over 100 yards and two scores, which prove to be way too much for a poor Illinois offense to overcome.
Iowa vs. Illinois final score prediction: Iowa 24, Illinois 3