#18 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Game Center

It was another week with less than stellar moments for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but the result was another win. Iowa struggled on both sides of the ball at times against the Gophers and nearly let some stunning late-game decisions cost them, but ultimately earned a 27-22 win over Minnesota to move to 8-2 over the season.

After extending their winning streak over the Gophers to 7 in a row, the Hawkeyes have now set their sights on the Illinois Fighting Beilemas, who in Iowa currently boast a 7-game winning streak entering the game.

The Illini come into this week’s game having also beaten Minnesota in their last game. Illinois beat the Gophers 14-6 in Minneapolis. It made for back-to-back road wins for the Illini, which defeated Penn State at Happy Valley two weeks earlier. Those road wins sandwiched a 5-5 home loss to Rutgers.

Sitting 3-4 in the Big Ten, this weekend’s game has no real meaning for Illinois in terms of conference finishing. However, the Illini are two wins away from bowl eligibility with two games remaining. For the Hawkeyes, a slim path to Indianapolis remains open if they can find a way to win, and Wisconsin is dropping a game against Nebraska or Minnesota.

Here’s a quick look at the details of this weekend’s game.

Dated: Saturday November 20
Time: 1:00 p.m. CT
Match: Illinois Fighting Illini (4-6, 3-4) at No. 18 Iowa Hawkeye (8-2, 5-2)
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
TV: FS1
Preliminary weather forecast: cloudy with temperatures in the upper 40s, 10% chance of rain with winds blowing up to 20 mph
DraftKings opening line: Iowa -12, O/U 38.5*

Story

As noted, Iowa enters this one with a 7-game winning streak over Illinois Fighting Illini. Despite recent success, Iowa trails Illinois in the all-time series 36-38-2.

This border rivalry is one of Iowa’s longest, dating back to 1899. That first game was actually played in Rock Island, Illinois (neutral sites for rivalry games seem like a potentially interesting idea ) and the Hawkeyes won 58-0. It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate what it took for Iowa to score 58 points in 1899.

As fun as it might be to ponder, it’s also not fun to think about the absurdity of Illinois’ 80-0 victory three years later. It’s the biggest margin of victory in series history, the next closest being Iowa’s 63-0 win at Champaign in 2018.

The current 7-game winning streak for the Hawkeyes is the longest for Iowa in the series. Illinois holds the longest winning streak in series history with 12 games spanning from 1942 to 1967.

Like Minnesota, the Illinois Fighting Illini haven’t won in Iowa City since 1999 under head coach Ron Turner. Illinois has gone through five coaches since that time. Iowa’s current winning streak has come against four of those with wins over Tim Beckman in 2014, Bill Cubit in 2015, Lovie Smith in 2016-19 and Rod Smith in 2020.

The Hawkeyes are now looking to extend their streak to eight games and five coaches as they face Bret Bielema for the first time in Illini colors. The former Hawkeye is 3-2 against Iowa since his time in Wisconsin. Kirk Ferentz and Bielema haven’t faced each other since Wisconsin’s spectacular 31-30 victory at Kinnick Stadium in 2010.

Ferentz is 12-3 against Illinois regardless of their head coach.