No. 6 – Illinois Fighting Illini 1-3 (0-1)
Last Week: 7
Illinois might not make a bowl game this season, but they can give good teams a run for their money if they play well. Despite losing by 15 points to Nebraska this past week, they took a 16-10 lead into the fourth quarter. It took a 63-yard touchdown run by Terrell Newby to break the game open with 2:03 left in the game.
Of course a 34-10 loss to Western Michigan still looms over their head, and the fact that they’re only averaging 25.2 points per game has to improve — 93rd in the nation. Although, they stayed competitive with now-17th ranked North Carolina in the first half and nearly upset now-12th ranked Nebraska.
More from Iowa Football
- Bet $1, Win $365 GUARANTEED Backing Hawkeyes with Bet365 Iowa Promo!
- How Fans Can Get an Official Jersey from Fanatics This Week!
- Bet365 Iowa Promo: Bet $1 on Hawkeyes vs. Cyclones, Win $200 Bonus GUARANTEED!
- Caesars + BetMGM Iowa Promos: Win $250 GUARANTEED + Back Hawkeyes With $1,500 No-Sweat Bet!
- DraftKings + FanDuel Iowa Promos: $400 Bonus for Iowa vs Utah State Week 1
Illinois simply doesn’t have the talent to close out games and consistently play well every week, which is why their the sixth best team in the Big Ten West. That being said, they have favorable matchups against Purdue and Rutgers over the next few weeks that could bring them back to .500.
Illinois has a solid running game with Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and Wes Lunt has still thrown only one interception compared to six touchdowns. The Illini just haven’t been able to prolong drives that result in points this season.
Still, their defense, led by Hardy Nickerson and Carroll Phillips, has allowed a respectable 29 points per game. Plus, they held both Western Michigan and Nebraska to under 35 points. That will give them a chance against Iowa and Northwestern later in the year, but their offense will need to get going if they want to win.
Illinois needs time under Lovie Smith, but at least his team is showing fight. They might not be a double-digit win team, however becoming bow eligible is very possible for them.