No. 18 Iowa clings to West hopes entering game with Illini

Illinois (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 18 Iowa (8-2, 5-2, No. 17 CFP), Saturday at 2 p.m. EST (FS1).

Line: Iowa by 11 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Illinois leads 38-36-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Hawkeyes’ hopes of winning the Big Ten West are faint, but a loss here would end them. Iowa is going for a third straight win after dropping back-to-back games in October. Illinois hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1999. The Illini, who end the regular season against Northwestern at home, still have a chance to get to 6-6 and make a bowl in Bret Bielema’s first year.

KEY MATCHUP

Illinois RB Chase Brown vs. Iowa defense. Brown ran for at least 145 yards in each of his last two road games. A similar performance probably would give the Illini a chance. The Hawkeyes are allowing just 3 yards per rushing attempt but have allowed a 100-yard rusher in two of their last three games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Illinois: S Kerby Joseph is the only player in the nation — and only Big Ten player in the last five years — with at least four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He’s in the top-five nationally in both categories.

Iowa: WR Charlie Jones had his first career 100-yard game against Minnesota last week, including a 72-yard touchdown. He also averages 10.4 yards on punt returns to lead the Big Ten, and he’s fourth in the conference with his 22.9-yard kick return average.

FACTS & FIGURES

Illinois coach Bret Bielema tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday night and will not be at the game. Assistant head coach George McDonald will be in charge. … Illini defensive coordinator Ryan Walters was given a contract extension Sunday. The Illini are giving up an average of 13.3 fewer points per game, the program’s best improvement since 1963. … LB Jack Campbell became the first Iowa player since Josey Jewell in 2017 to record 100 tackles in a season. Campbell had 17 last week against Minnesota. … Iowa will honor 17 seniors who will be playing their final game at Kinnick Stadium. The senior class has an overall record of 33-11 and played in a bowl each year since 2018.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

College Football | Other Sports News | Sports

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up