CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS – Iowa defeated Illinois, 28-0, in Champaign, Illinois, on Saturday afternoon, improving to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play.
Iowa shutout a Big Ten opponent for the first time since defeating Minnesota, 12‐0, on Nov. 21, 2009. It was Iowa’s first shutout since 2010 (Ball State).
Iowa won on the road for the fourth time this season. It is the sixth time Iowa has won four road games in a single season since 1999 (2002, 2004, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016).
Iowa forced Illinois to punt on its first 10 possessions, a streak that was snapped by CB Desmond King’s interception in the third quarter. Illinois’ final four drives ended with interception, turnover on downs, fumble, turnover on downs.
QB C.J. Beathard finished the game 9‐of‐17 for 80 yards. In 26 career starts, Beathard has thrown for fewer than 100 yards four times and Iowa has won all four games (77 yards at Wisconsin 2015, 97 yards at Nebraska 2015, 66 yards vs. Michigan 2016, at Illinois 2016). Beathard is 20‐6 in 26 career starts, and 10‐1 in true road games.
TE Noah Fant had a team and career‐high three catches for a career‐high 25 yards.
WR Jerminic Smith caught two passes for 33 yards. He has caught a pass in 11 straight games.
RB LeShun Daniels scored two touchdowns today to become the 38th player in program history to score 100 or more points. Daniels has 104 career points. He finished the game with a season‐high 159 yards on 26 carries (26 carries ties career high). He has five career 100‐yard games and six career multi‐touchdown games. He has eight rushing touchdowns this year, matching a single‐season career high set in 2015.
RB Akrum Wadley rushed 13 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. He had two receptions for three yards. He has at least one reception in 13 straight games.
DB Desmond King intercepted a pass today. It was his second interception of the season and 13th of his career, tying Tyler Sash for fifth in program history.
WR Riley McCarron returned a punt 55 yards for Iowa’s first touchdown. It was McCarron’s second punt return this season (38 vs. Northwestern) and the longest of his career. It was Iowa’s first punt return for touchdown since Drew Ott in 2014 (12 yards vs. Nebraska after punter kicked the ball into his own player). Iowa’s last true punt return for a touchdown was 2013, when Kevonte Martin‐Manley returned two punts for touchdowns against Western Michigan.
RG Levi Paulsen made his first career start. OL Ike Boettger missed the game due to injury. He had started all 10 games this season. RT Sean Welsh made his third career start at RT. LT Boone Myers, LG Keegan Render, and C James Daniels completed the starting offensive line. Iowa has used seven starting offensive line combinations this season.
SS Anthony Gair made his third career start and recorded a career‐high eight tackles.
LB Josey Jewell led Iowa with 10 tackles. It is his sixth double‐digit tackle effort of the season.
Kirk Ferentz has 81 Big Ten wins, tying Lloyd Carr for sixth among the conference’s all‐time winningest coaches in Big Ten games.
Iowa has seven wins for the 13th time since 1999, and the eighth time in the last nine seasons.
Iowa lost a fumble (Wadley) in the second quarter. It was just the second lost fumble for Iowa this season. The Hawkeyes entered the game tied with Nevada for fewest fumbles lost in NCAA. The Hawkeyes were even in turnover differential for the fourth time this season (NDSU, Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois).
Iowa won the toss and choose to defend the south end zone. The wind was out of the west at 24 mph. Illinois received the first half kickoff, and the second half kickoff. In 18 seasons as Iowa’s head coach, Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense in 49‐of‐225 games (28‐21). The Hawkeyes have started the game on offense in 176‐ of‐225 games (106‐70).
The Hawkeyes return to the field Friday, Nov. 25, hosting Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff will be announced Sunday.
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz interview:
“I’m just really pleased and proud of our football team. I’m pleased for them. I’m proud of the performance they gave today. Certainly, I thought they played with a lot of determination out there, a lot of discipline and a lot of decisiveness. We walked into what was a very challenging environment. A big contrast from last week. A lot of fronts: weather, the environment itself, not being a night game, all that type of thing. We still had some injuries to overcome on top of it. I’m just really pleased with the way the guys fought through all that. We experienced some bumps early in the game. In the first half some things didn’t go quite as we had hoped. The defense kept playing, they came ready from the start and played good football and kept us in the game. And then, certainly, in the second half it was just a really strong performance by everybody involved. Offensively we ran the ball effectively, special teams played really well and the defense continued to press on and came home with the shutout. It’s been quite some time since we’ve gotten a Big Ten shutout. You combine all that together- a road win in the Big Ten and a chance to get our seventh win- just really, really happy for our team, really proud of everyone’s effort and it’ll be a good ride home for everybody.”
“Yeah, I think it’s a real strong thing. A lot was made during the week about a trap game and those types of things. To me, it all gets down to your approach and that’s what we talked to our players about. One thing we’ve always tried to work with our guys on is to take a consistent approach. It really gets down to the detail, the way they approach their preparation and then most importantly the way they bring energy and compete on the field. If you can establish those kind of habits and fall back on those things some good things can happen out of it. Fortunately in the second half, I think the guys really pulled it together.”
“We’ve gotten to a point this year where we feel like we have two guys that are really strong football players, trustworthy, dependable and great attitudes. They’re just really good veteran players. I was all for Akrum (Wadley) last week and I was all for LeShun (Daniels, Jr.) this week. The bottom line is you really need both guys. They’ve really complemented each other very well.”
“It’s special for all the guys anytime you get a shutout. They’re hard to do and its hard to come by. It’s a compliment to them all. The whole staff did a good job and certainly, our players, they are the ones out there playing.”
Senior Quarterback C.J. Beathard
On the offense:
“Yeah I mean it was ugly in the first half, but I think we came out the second half ready to go. We had a couple good drives going there in the first half but hurt ourselves with big penalties and turnovers. But we knew if we could step on the gas in the second half we’d be alright.”
On the defense motivating the offense:
“It’s great. They’ve been flying around, hitting guys, and getting to the ball the last couple of weeks. I mean we’ve seen this going all season, but they’ve stacked a couple really good games together defensively. It gets the offense guys motivated a little bit when they see the defense go out there and get stops. It puts the pressure on the offense to go out there and score.”
Junior Running Back Akrum Wadley
On how the momentum of the season has changed:
“Yeah that’s the interesting thing about this game. Everything can change in a day. We’ve just got to keep up the momentum, and stick to what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks.”
Junior Linebacker Josey Jewell
On how fun it is when the defense is playing this well:
“Yeah it’s awesome. I mean when you’re having a little more fun out there you’re able to, maybe not really relax, but go out there and give it your all without being hesitant. It was an awesome game, and we’re just happy that we held them to zero.”