Illinois has seen it all this season after seeing the Week 6 game against Ohio State canceled due to COVID-19 cases within the Buckeyes program.

Though that was the first cancellation for Lovie Smith’s squad, the Illini have already started four different quarterbacks in a game this season. Illinois has also been on the losing end of blowouts, the winning end of close games, and will be coming out of a dominant performance in beating Nebraska in Week 5.

On Saturday, the Illini will take on a hot Iowa squad that has rolled to four straight wins after a rough start to the season. Offensive coordinator Rod Smith previewed that matchup and knows the Illini will have to take care of the ball against a takeaway minded opponent.

Jeremy Werner with Illini Inquirer shared Smith’s comments:

“We got to take care of the football. Met with the quarterbacks [on Monday morning] and that was the point of emphasis is that we have to take care of the football. We did a great job of that at Nebraska, and our defense did a tremendous job of taking the ball away and giving us opportunities…That’s the goal again is we protect the program [the ball] each and every time we touch the football. That’ll be a chore because these guys are really good at taking away the football as well.”

Smith went on to praise Iowa’s defense and the challenges that unit poses to his offense:

“They are who they are. They know what they’re doing. They’re extremely well-coached. They play extremely hard. They’re strong. They’re physical. They’re just a very good football team. Coach Ferentz has had a good football program for years now…It’s funny, you can go back two years ago to when they played us to last year to washing film of their opponents this year, they have a system, they run it and they’re damn good at it. They’re going to make you out-executed them is what it comes down to. You’re going to have to out-execute your system to out-execute their system. That’s what it comes down to.”

Will the Illini be up to the task? Saturday’s kickoff is set for 3:30 pm EST on FS1.