The Daily Illini sports staff makes predictions ahead of Illinois football’s game against Iowa


Cameron Krasucki

The Illinois offensive lines waits for the Wisconsin quarterback to throw the ball on Oct. 30. The Daily Illini predicts how the team will perform against Iowa this weekend.

By The Daily Illini Sports Staff

Jackson Janes: Illinois 10, Iowa 7

I got both the Penn State and Minnesota upsets wrong, so let’s try changing it up a bit this week.

This Illinois defense has allowed 20 points or less in six of its last seven games, and the Illini have won back-to-back road games against ranked opponents this season.

With the status of Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras still not certain, I think the offense does just enough while the defense has another stellar game and walks out of Iowa City with a win, the Illini’s first over the Hawkeyes since 2008 and its first victory on the road at Iowa since 1999.

Wes Hollenberg: Iowa 17, Illinois 16

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The more I’ve watched Illinois football this season, the harder it’s gotten to predict.

The Illini now have two consecutive ranked wins on the road heading into this game and need this win for a shot at earning a bowl berth. That being said, Illinois will be without head coach Bret Bielema, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, and Iowa is the ranked team in this matchup.

Both teams have strong defenses and relatively pedestrian offenses, so I’d predict it comes down to the wire. The Hawkeyes might be heavy favorites, but this Illinois team has shown the ability to beat the odds time and time again.

Will Payne: Illinois 10, Iowa 7

One of the bright spots during this season has been Illinois’ ability to knock off ranked Big Ten foes on road. And when the Illini visit Iowa City this weekend, I have a hunch this streak will continue.

The Hawkeyes currently have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, averaging fewer than 300 yards per game, while the Illini have been solid on defense for most of this season, as they’re one of the best takeaway teams in college football.

Both teams have iffy quarterback situations and rely on their running games, so there’s no doubt this will be a low-scoring game. Even with Bielema out after testing positive for COVID-19, I think Illinois figures out a way to pull a victory out of this.

Josh Pietsch: Iowa 17, Illinois 16

This is my way of saying I think this game is pretty much a coin flip, but it’s really hard not to take the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. They’ve also dominated Illinois as of late, taking the last seven meetings.

Even though he won’t be on the sidelines, I think bye-week Bret will live up to his name and have his team totally prepared for Saturday’s contest. I also trust the rest of the coaching staff, who’ve been preparing for this all season and have learned Bielema’s routine ten games in.

I expect the Illini rushing game to play well, though Iowa does have a phenomenal defense. I think the well-rested offensive line will have another good game, similar to how it played against Penn State, opening holes for Chase Brown, Josh McCray and the rest of the group. The key, though, might be Brandon Peters. If he can successfully throw the ball when Iowa sells out on the run, Illinois has a real chance.

Defensively, I have high hopes for the Illini. Gosh, three months ago I never thought I would have said that. Iowa doesn’t have that great of an offense, and with the way they’ve been playing and the bye week, I think the defense should hold its own.

Still, Kinnick is a tough place to play, and Iowa is a good team with an amazing coach in Kirk Ferentz. This would be a bad loss for them.

Claire O’Brien: Iowa 49, Illinois 21

Illinois travels to Iowa City this Saturday to take on the No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes. Illinois comes off a bye week and an upset over Minnesota the week prior. Iowa narrowly defeated Minnesota last week.

Illinois head coach and Iowa alum Bret Bielema tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and will not be coaching Saturday.

Illinois has not defeated Iowa since 2008. Iowa handed Illinois a 63-0 loss in 2018, among the worst in program history.