IOWA CITY, Iowa (WCIA) — For the first time in six weeks, Illinois walks off the field with a loss. The four game winning streak is over.
But what a difference a year makes. This time last season Iowa handed Illinois one of its worst losses in program history 63-0. The Illini proved on Saturday they’re no longer a pushover, competing until the end but turnovers ultimately proved too much to overcome. Illinois lost the turnover battle for the first since the Eastern Michigan game, that was 10 weeks ago.
“Each game we’ve won, we’ve talked about the turnover ratio. Going to do the same thing right now, when you’re minus two in the turnover ratio, that’s tough, kind of as simple as that,” Lovie Smith said.
The ground game gave the Illini a chance to win, rushing for 192 yards, while only allowing the Hawkeyes to go for 79. But the Illini only scored one touchdown, the only time they were in the red zone all day.
“We just left so many opportunities out there and we’re so used to winning the turnover battle and today we lost it and that’s why we lost the game,” running back Dre Brown said.
The biggest concern after the game, injuries. Tony Adams left early and didn’t return, Brandon Peters got drilled on a helmet-to-helmet hit late. I asked Lovie if he thought it should have been called targeting, he said absolutely. Peters did not come back to the game after going out, leaving his status up in the air for next week’s regular season finale.