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Illinois at Iowa TCR Staff Predictions

How does our staff think Saturday’s game will play out?

Iowa v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Stephen Cohn: Illinois 28, Iowa 27

Ok, so you probably remember what happened last Friday night when the Illini scored 6 (six!) points against a Nebraska team that fired its athletic director less than two weeks prior after losing to NORTHERN Illinois. The odds of Illinois putting up 28 points — and winning — on an Iowa team that has lost to Penn State and Michigan State in heartbreaking fashion the past two weeks is slim to none. Nonetheless, someone has to take the Illini in the scenario that Jeff George Jr. (or Cam Thomas!?) leads the team to victory in Iowa City!

Michael Berns: Iowa 28, Illinois 7

Iowa won this game in Champaign 28-0 last year. There are so many changes not just between last year and this year, but between last game (Nebraska) and this game. The offensive line is constantly changing with injuries and with young players getting lots of reps. The quarterback situation is changing and Garrick McGee’s offensive gameplan will change, too. I expect Illinois to score once on one big play that catches Iowa off-guard; perhaps a screen pass to Ricky Smalling that goes the distance. Iowa does what they do: run the ball effectively, control the clock and win the game in typical Big Ten fashion.

Ian Gold: Iowa 38, Illinois 21

Iowa is the exact type of offense that a young Illinois defense is going to predictably struggle against without much deviation. The Hawkeyes don’t have to throw the ball to put points on the board, so they probably won’t. Expect Illinois to see a heavy dose of Akrum Wadley and for him to have a banner afternoon. Illinois’ offense should have received some much needed spark by the quarterback change to Jeff George Jr., but for him to make too many mistakes to make this a close game in the 4th quarter. Expect to see Cam Thomas get a look when it’s out of reach.

Mark Schaer: Iowa 31, Illinois 20

As if a last-second loss to Penn State wasn’t bad enough, Iowa went into East Lansing last week and lost a very winnable game against a Spartans team that was 3-9 last year. I expect Iowa to start the game off aggressively and Nate Stanley, who didn’t have a great showing last week, to be strong out of the gate. Akrum Wadley — 30 rushing yards on 17 carries against Sparty — will provide some problems, too, for the Illini defense, as the Hawkeyes will want to get him going again. Jeff George Jr., the newly-minted starting QB, will be a breath of fresh air, but he won’t be able to overcome the Hawkeyes’ scoring. The freshmen-heavy defense simply will not be able to stop a balanced offense from Iowa.

Matt O'Neall: Iowa 38, Illinois 17

Iowa is looking to get healthy after back to back losses, and a Homecoming date with the sputtering Illini should prove to be a quick fix. Illinois' youth up front simply doesn't have the necessary strength to compete with the line play of Iowa. I expect to see Akrum Wadley running wild and to flirt with 200 rushing yards. The offense may have slightly more success this week since Iowa won't have a lot of tape on the new Illini quarterback(s), but it won't be enough to pull out a win in Iowa City.

Austin Jabs: Iowa 43, Illinois 10

Iowa may not look like the team they used to be after a bad loss against Michigan State, but its home matchup with the Illini may be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Hawkeyes. Kinnick is not an ideal place to play for anyone in the Big Ten — just ask Penn State who escaped on a last second touchdown — and the Illini will have their hands full against a much better, veteran Iowa squad. This game will be a learning curve for Jeff George Jr. and Cam Thomas, if he plays, and the Illinois defense will get quite a bit of playing time this weekend.

Thumpasaurus: Iowa 24, Illinois 0

Prove me wrong, Illini. Please, dear God in heaven, help the Illini prove me wrong. Iowa’s run defense is the truth, and their linebackers are very athletic and experienced. They play a fundamentally sound defense that isn’t going to give up big plays, and their offense will run stretch plays all day against linebackers that aren’t quite fast enough to get there. Unless Gay and Roundtree completely take over this game and punch way above their weight class, Illinois is not going to spend very much of this game with the ball. On offense we have an opportunity to get the ball to Dudek/Smalling/Green in space, since George will get a lot more velocity on short sideline passes. This could be our best bet at moving the ball, but I don’t know how much we can really expect out of this game. It’ll tell us a lot about Garrick McGee’s ability to adapt, or perhaps it won’t due to the inexperience of the offensive line.

Brandon Birkhead: Iowa 27, Illinois 6

Illinois will find a bit of spark early with Jeff George the Younger but realizes soon after that the issues on offense go much deeper than just QB. The offense is unable to move the ball past the 50 consistently, and the young, talented Illinois defense tires out as Iowa dominates time of possession. Iowa wins 27-6 in a game that will be over early because Illinois can’t score more than 10 points on anyone right now.