Iowa has dominated the recent history in the series against Illinois, but Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz knows that doesn’t mean much this time around.

The Hawkeyes have currently won five straight in the series against the Illini. Since Lovie Smith took over in Champaign, Iowa is 3-0 and has outscored Illinois by an insane 136-16 mark. The Illini have been shut out in two of those games.

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However, no one needs to remind Ferentz of the current work of Smith and this Illinois squad. They have completely flipped the script this year, reaching bowl eligibility with a drastic comeback over Michigan State in Week 11.

Though Iowa will be favored while playing at home, Ferentz admitted this Illinois team is a completely different animal. This time, Illinois is the hottest team in the B1G West.

Hawkeye Sports shared Ferentz’s comments:

“They’re the hottest team on our side of the conference, playing with great momentum, four straight wins, and playing really good football,” Ferentz said. “I think one of the first points we made to our football team was this is a totally new Illinois team. Anything that we may remember from the past, or seen on film from the past, you can discard at this point because they’re playing at a different level right now. A lot of the same faces, but they’re playing at a much higher level right now.”

It should be a good contest come Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12 pm EST on BTN.