HN Pregame: Iowa vs Illinois

Illinois and Ron Zook come calling on Kinnick Stadium this weekend. With a win, Iowa could set a new school record for consecutive home wins. More importantly, Iowa needs to get back on track after a 2-2 start where the offense has been mostly punchless and the defense has taken far too many punches...

Hawkeye NCAA Statistical Rankings ~ Illini NCAA Statistical Rankings


Both Iowa and Illinois have had some tough sledding on the defensive side of the ball more than one-third of the way through their schedules.

The Illini are ranked no better than 103rd in every defensive category save one, and they are 83rd in that category; pass defense.

The reason they rank ‘better' in that category is because they are allowing 215 yards per game on the ground, so teams down have to throw a whole lot on them. Illinois also ranks poorly in net punting, allowing better than seven yards per return.

Illinois is allowing a whopping 467 total yards per game this year. For the uninitiated, that is not good.

Iowa is having a down year thus far on ‘D' when compared to the last three years. Iowa ranks 41st in the country in total defense and 75 in rushing defense, allowing nearly 160 yards per game on the ground. Last year, Iowa had one of the best run defenses in school history, allowing less than 93 yards per game on the ground.


Both Iowa and Illinois have not shown the level of offense that they would like. Illinois' strength is on the ground, as they average about 10 more yards per game on the ground than Iowa.


The genie was let out of the bottle last year, and that genie is Drew Tate. Iowa seemingly felt it needed to get back to a balanced attack this year, as they felt they would have the horses up front to accomplish that objective.

But David Walker has not been healthy, Todd Plagman quit the team, Lee Grey is out for the year with a knee injury and all five of Iowa's starting offensive linemen this week are playing in positions that they did not spend a lot of time at last year.

Tate and the entire offense has been hemmed in. Will this be the game where they come out swinging? Maybe not, as there should be some easy pickins' on the ground, but Iowa definitely needs to start spreading the offense as the season rolls along, something they did last year with some success.

The only difference, and it's a big one, is that Iowa had a national title caliber defense to lean back on last year if the offense made mistakes. They don't have that this year, and it's not going to come about.

But if Iowa has any hopes for contending for a third Big Ten title in four years, they are going to have to become the aggressors on offense at some point.


Brian Finley's Take: Kyle Schlicher, err, Albert Young runs for 115 yards and two scores, Drew Tate finds a rhythm, and Shonn Greene makes it through a game without a fumble. EB Halsey and Pierre Thomas Jr. will run through the Iowa defense, however, as Chad Greenway is forced to come up with 12+ tackles once more. Iowa 34 - Illinois 10

Useless fact: For the first time in the Kirk Ferentz era, Jon Beutjer will not be involved in any way, shape, or form with the Iowa/Illinois game.

Jon Miller's Take: The Hawks come out in front of a lot of pink, chants of pink, pink thoughts and pummel the Illini on the ground. No, it's not what we will see from this point forward, but when a team gives up so many yards on the ground as Illinois does, you have to take what they give you. Iowa 34, Illinois 17.

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