Iowa Hawkeye Football Schedule Prep: Week 1 vs. Illinois State

Each Monday, we'll look ahead game by game with a brief preview of the 2024 football schedule. The Iowa Hawkeyes will kickoff the 2024 season against the Illinois State Redbirds.
Illinois State v Wisconsin
Illinois State v Wisconsin / John Fisher/GettyImages

With Iowa's spring game out of the way, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2024 college football season with a bit more anticipation. We'll entertain that effort with a weekly series that will provide a brief preview of each game on the schedule.

Overall, the Iowa Hawkeyes have a fairly favorable schedule. That said, it doesn't get much easier, at least on paper, than with Illinois State to open the campaign.

The Redbirds are coming off a 6-5 record in 2023, with three of those losses coming against ranked FCS opponents. Illinois State has just five wins over FBS programs in its history, but only one against a Power 5 school, Northwestern in 2016 with a 9-7 victory.

The last time Iowa played Illinois State was in the 2015 season opener where the Hawkeyes beat the Redbirds 31-14.

The program is led by head coach Brock Spack, who has been with the program since 2009 after cutting his teeth in the coaching ranks primarily at Purdue where he was the defensive coordinator from 1997-2008. The Redbirds have enjoyed mild success and spurts of mediocrity during his tenure with a 101-70 record and five FCS Playoff appearances.

Much like the last meeting, it should be expected that Iowa will handle its business in this game. Still, the Hawkeyes will be breaking in a new offense with offensive coordinator Tim Lester while quarterback Cade McNamara will still be getting his playing legs under him after rehabbing most of the offseason.

Nonetheless, Iowa returns eight starters on a strong defense. Meanwhile, Illinois State is only replacing three starters total from last year's squad. One of those positions is at quarterback and the Redbirds haven't narrowed down a starter between incumbent Tommy Rittenhouse and Kansas State transfer Jake Rubley.

The game is set for August 31 with kickoff time and television and streaming channels to be announced at a later date. The kickoff to the 2024 season will celebrate Educator Day and will also honor the new Iowa Hawkeye Hall of Fame inductees with a new class expected to be announced within the coming months.