Iowa Sweeps into Champaign, Blanks Illinois 28–0

It was another November wind-swept day on the flat plains of Central Illinois. Anyone who has attended a game at Memorial Stadium in those weather conditions know how much the wind can impact a football game. That was certainly the case in the First Half as Iowa used a 55 yard Riley McCarron punt return touchdown to take a 7–0 lead into Halftime.

But it was all Hawkeyes after that as the Offense added three rushing touchdowns (two by LeShun Daniels and one by Akrum Wadley) in the Second Half. Iowa’s Defense picked up where it left off in the Michigan Game and played stout throughout the day — giving the Hawks their first shutout of the Illini since 1985.

Iowa’s running back duo was very effective as it has been in every win this season. Daniels finished the day with 159 rushing yards, including a 50 yard TD run in the Fourth Quarter. Akrum Wadley rushed for 82 yards. The passing game’s 80 yards wasn’t much of a factor but did add just enough to keep several drives alive. Iowa finished with 342 yards of total offense.

True Freshman Manny Rugumba had his second consecutive solid game, subbing in for Cornerback Greg Mabin, including a strip and fumble recovery on a kickoff return midway through the Fourth Quarter. Desmond King got his second interception of the year in the third quarter (13th of his career), Josey Jewell led the team in tackles with 10 — which likely secures his Big Ten lead in that category going into the last week of the regular season, and Anthony Gair had another solid day at safety in place of Miles Taylor.

Special Teams were critical again for Iowa. In addition to McCarron’s punt return touchdown, Kicker Ron Coluzzi was one of the keys as he has been all year. Despite the impact of the gusting winds, Coluzzi punted well for the most part and kicked off effectively — often making the difference in field position.

Meantime Illinois punted 10 times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and had two turnovers. The Illini only had 61 rushing yards — they came into the game averaging 156.8. They had 198 yards of total offense. Time of possession also continued to be a problem for Illinois as Iowa held the ball for 32:21 in this game.

Iowa also had two turnovers: a fumble inside the Illinois five yard line in the Second Quarter and Quarterback C.J. Beathard threw an interception to start that period. But the Illini failed to capitalize on either one of those plays.

Iowa (7–4, 5–3) returns to Kinnick Stadium to play its annual Black Friday Game against Nebraska in the annual battle for the Heroes Trophy, which currently resides in Iowa City. A win over the Cornhuskers could substantially improve the Hawkeyes Bowl slotting. Illinois (3–8, 2–6) concludes its season at Northwestern.

Posted 11/19/16 at 2:50 PM

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