Rapid reaction: Iowa overcomes early deficit, scores 35 straight points to defeat Illinois
Final score: Iowa 35, Illinois 21
Brief recap: Illinois surprisingly jumped out to a 14-0 lead and carried a 14-13 advantage into halftime, but the Illinis’ lead didn’t last much longer than that. Iowa chipped away at the deficit over the course of the game, eventually scoring 35 unanswered points. Illinois was able to get back on the board again with a touchdown with 24 seconds left.
Key player: Quarterback Spencer Petras arguably had his best game as a Hawkeye. He threw three touchdown passes and didn’t turn it over a single time. Coming into this game, Petras had four touchdown throws all season long. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 220 yards.
Key moment: Iowa scored its first points of the game with 6:18 remaining in the second quarter. It came on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Petras to Sam LaPorta. Without that drive, it’s possible things could have further spiraled out of control for the Hawkeyes. Iowa ended up scoring two additional times in the second quarter — both field goals — and took momentum into the break despite a one-point deficit.
Key stat: 3.8. That’s how many yards per play Illinois averaged in the second half against Iowa’s vaunted defense until the final drive. The Hawkeyes were so dominant they forced the Illini to bench quarterback Brandon Peters in favor of dual-threat QB Isaiah Williams in the second half. Williams had a bit more luck moving the ball, but it didn’t translate to points until it was far too late.
What it means for Iowa: Iowa has now won five straight games after starting the season 0-2. It’s becoming possible for the Hawkeyes to slip into a New Year’s Six bowl game if things break right for them down the stretch.
What it means for Illinois: Illinois is now 2-4 on the season. The most interesting consequence from this game may be what Lovie Smith decides to do at the quarterback position moving forward. Illinois is scheduled to play at Northwestern next weekend. Williams is mostly a runner, but he did complete seven passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.