A pair of longtime Midwest rivals will meet up in Champaign, Illinois as the Fighting Illini host the Iowa Hawkeyes. There is likely little excitement about this game outside of these two states, as both teams have struggled so far this season. Illinois will need a victory in each of their final two games to become bowl eligible this season. Iowa is looking to try and snap a three-game losing streak that has taken them out of the rankings.
Iowa won six of their first seven games this season, and they looked to be the favorite to win the Big Ten West division. The Hawkeyes 14-10 loss to Northwestern knocked them out of contention, and also gave the Wildcats the West division crown. Illinois has shown improvement this season, but are still just 2-5 in Big Ten play. The Fighting Illini have conference wins against Rutgers and Minnesota this season. The Hawkeyes are 14.5 point road favorites in this game.
Illinois Has No Defense
Simply put, the Fighting Illini have played little to no defense in most of their games this season. Illinois is giving up 533 yards and 38.6 points per game this season, ranking them in the bottom-10 of FBS teams in both categories. Illinois has given up at least 45 points in four of their last five games, all losses, and appear to have no answers. Luckily for Illinois, Iowa doesn’t feature a dynamic offense in this matchup.
Offensively, the Illini have talented playmakers that should continue to improve in the coming years. Running back Reggie Corbin is averaging 8.9 yards per carry this season and has racked up over 1,000 rushing yards this season. Corbin and quarterback AJ Bush Jr. have combined for 17 rushing touchdowns this season. Illinois can put up some points, but they need to play some “D” in this game.
Hawkeyes Need To Find Offense
The Iowa Hawkeyes are about the exact opposite of Illinois, as they can play defense, but can’t score points. Iowa is averaging just 28.4 points per game this season and was held to just ten points in the loss last weekend. Quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown 18 touchdowns this season but has also thrown eight interceptions and has completed just 58 percent of his passes.
The Hawkeyes defense has done their part this season, allowing just 18.1 points per game. Iowa gave up just 14 points last weekend to Northwestern, and have held five opponents this season to 14 points or less. The Hawkeyes have given up just 96 rushing yards per game so far this season and will look to slow down Corbin and the Illini offense in this game.
Illinois Hangs Tough in Loss
The Iowa Hawkeyes are much better than the Fighting Illini, but Illinois has started to show promise. Iowa doesn’t have a consistent offense, and that could allow Illinois to stay in this game. The Fighting Illini have a horrible defense, but their offense should be able to put up some points against Iowa. The Hawkeyes will avoid the upset, but Illinois will cover. Bet Illinois +14.5 over Iowa on Saturday.