Reaching across enemy lines: Iowa

Editor’s note: Every week, The Daily Illini football staff chats with a sports editor or football beat reporter from an opposing school’s paper. Up this week is sports editor of The Daily Iowan, Jordan Hansenbr.

Daily Illini: Is Iowa the real deal this year?

Jordan Hansen: I’ve asked myself this question a bunch of times over the last couple weeks and I’m going to cautiously say “yes.”

They’re a tough, resilient team that can win in a variety of ways and has a number of weapons at their disposal.

That being said, there’s plenty of time for this team to tailspin into oblivion, but I don’t think this happens this year.

DI: How elite of a quarterback is C.J. Beathardbr?

JH: He’s in the upper-tier of Big Ten quarterbacks, but a poor showing against the Badgers dropped him a bit. With that said, Iowa’s tackles were not great in that game and he was under quite a bit of pressure, so I’ll cut him a bit of slack.

He’s a mobile quarterback with a good arm and a lot of zip on his passes. His ability to read defenses and go through his progressions is improving, but there’s still some work to be done in that area.

Beathard also has a pretty solid deep ball, though with wide receiver Tevaun Smithbr out until after Iowa’s bye week, it remains to be seen who he’ll be chucking it down the field to.

DI: Is there a weakness on this team that can’t be seen through stats?

JH: Breaking in two offensive tackles is a difficult thing to do and while Iowa’s sack numbers aren’t terrible, there have been a couple games where Beathard has been running for his life.

Iowa’s linebackers are also a bit slow and aren’t particularly great in pass coverage. I’m curious how Illinois’ coaching staff decides to attack them.

DI: What do you think will be Iowa’s biggest game for the rest of the season?

JH: I mean, Iowa hasn’t been eliminated from the College Football Playoff yet, right?

In all seriousness though, if Iowa and Northwestern are both still undefeated next week, that’s a huge game.

Big Ten West implications abound.

DI: Do you think the Hawkeyes might overlook Illinois?

JH: I really don’t think so. Kirk Ferentzbr seems to have plenty of respect for Illinois and so do the players. It’s also homecoming week and the Hawkeyes are going to be pretty close to a sellout. This just doesn’t strike me as a trap game.

DI: How big was the win over Wisconsin?

JH: Absolutely huge. It was Iowa’s first win over a ranked opponent on the road since 2010 at Michigan and a trophy game at that.

Wisconsin has been something of a mental hurdle for Iowa over the last few years and for the first time in a while, there’s quite a bit of buzz about Iowa.

DI: Is there any excitement for this game since it’s the first time since 2007 that the Illini are visiting?

JH: I think a little bit more than normal, though that might just be because it’s homecoming week. To me, the basketball rivalry between Iowa and Illinois will always be bigger, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who would disagree with me.

Follow Jordan Hansen on Twitter @JordyHansen