The Iowa football team has their 11th game of 2019 tomorrow vs Illinois. Here is my prediction for what takes place in Kinnick.
Most Iowa football fans expect tomorrow to be a win when the Hawks take on the Fighting Illini, and I, without a doubt, fall into that boat. This Illinois team isn’t a joke though. They are sporting a four-game win streak, and on the heels of some savvy graduate transfer recruiting by Lovie Smith, they’ve got some good talent coming out of Champagne.
At a high-level, statistics make it seem like this could be a close game.
Illinois is averaging 30.7 points per game (59th in the nation) and they are giving up 25.7 points per game (54th in the nation). While neither of those rankings is head-turning, they aren’t that bad. Heck, the Iowa football team is averaging just 24 points per game which is 100th in the nation. If it wasn’t for Iowa’s stout defense (ranked 5th), we could be talking about a much different Iowa Hawkeyes season, but that’s neither or here nor there at this point.
The point is, at a high-level, like I said earlier, the statistics make it seem like this game could be pretty close.
But I don’t agree with that.
When looking further into the statistics, Illinois is doing a fantastic job of capitalizing on key opportunities and taking advantage of opponent’s mistakes.
Offensively, their passing numbers are actually quite pedestrian. Their yards per play offensively is in the bottom third of the nation, they’re terrible at converting 3rd and 4th downs (ranked 114th and 104th respectively), and they’re averaging just 334 yards per game (108th in the nation).
Defensively, they are not as stout as the Wisconsin, Penn State, or even Michigan defense for that matter.
The key here is that the Iowa football team needs to protect the football, and stop the Illinois offense from converting big plays, specifically to their star wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe who is averaging over 20 yards per reception.
Outside of the Michigan game, the Iowa football team has done a great job of keeping the ball out of opponents’ hands (13th best in the nation), and Illinois’ relatively weak offensive line (116th worst sack percentage) bodes well for a defensive line that is heating up after a six sack performance against Minnesota.
Much like what happened versus Minnesota, I think the Iowa football team gets off to a hot start in the first half. The difference between this game and that is that Illinois doesn’t have enough talent to claw its way back against the Iowa football team.
I think the Iowa football team sends their seniors out in their last game in Kinnick with a 42-10 win.