Hawkeyes Roll Illini, Cornhuskers Next By Dan Stasi/Sportscast Media Network Photos By Danny Davis/Sportscast Media Network The Iowa Hawkeye football team won, 19-10, for the sixth straight time over

Hawkeyes Roll Illini, Cornhuskers Next
By Dan Stasi/Sportscast Media Network
Photos By Danny Davis/Sportscast Media Network
The Iowa Hawkeye football team won, 19-10, for the sixth straight time over Illinois
Saturday, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, in front of a loud and enthusiastic
crowd. Iowa is now ranked 19th in this weeks’ AP poll and 20th in the
Coach’s poll, and improved to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, while
Illinois is now 4-4 in the Big Ten and 6-5 overall on the season.
It was the Iowa defense that starred again for the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeye
defense has not played a bad game all season and were led by Senior
linebacker Christian Welch, who had 12 tackles, and defensive backs Micheal
Ojemudia and Matt Hankins, who both had interceptions, and defensive end A.J
Epenesa, who had another great game, keeping the Fighting Illini offense at
bay the entire game. Meanwhile, the Iowa offense was led by Senior
quarterback Nate Stanley, who, on Senior day, threw for 308 yards on 35
attempts, with one interception and no touchdowns. Iowa’s only touchdown
against the vastly improved Illini was tallied by freshmen running back
Tyler Goodson, on a short plunge in the first quarter; otherwise, the Hawkeye
ground game struggled against Illinois. In the game, two major milestones
were accomplished, Iowa junior field goal kicker Keith Duncan kicked four
field goals Saturday and now has 26 on the season, and the 26 made kicks set
an all time Big Ten single season record in made field goals. Also Saturday,
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, now in his 21st season, tied his mentor Hayden
Fry for fourth place all time in wins as a Head Coach in Big Ten games, with
his 96th Big Ten victory vs. the Illini. Unlike the previous several Iowa vs
Illinois football games, the Hawkeyes had to really work for the victory, but
they prevailed over an Illinois team that looked light years better then the
past several seasons.
Up next for the Hawkeyes, is the annual regular season finale against the
Nebraska Cornhuskers, at Nebraska, Friday afternoon. Nebraska, under second
year head Coach, and former Cornhusker quarterback, Scott Frost, came into the
season with high hopes, but again have struggled. They are 3-5 in the Big Ten and
5-6 overall and need to win just to qualify for any bowl game. The
Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes on the gridiron compete for the Heroes’ game trophy,
which goes to the winning team; and Iowa has won the last four meetings and
five out of the last six games played. Last year, the Hawkeyes won maybe the
best game ever in the series, 31-28, in the rain in Iowa City, on a last second
Miguel Recinos field goal, and Iowa has won the last three meetings at
Nebraska, going back to 2013. All told in the series, Nebraska, however, leads
29-17, with three ties. In games played at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers hold an
18-8 advantage, with all three ties coming at Nebraska. The series started in
1891 at Nebraska, with an Iowa victory. On the field, the Cornhuskers are led
by Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, who can beat teams with his arm or
legs. Last year, in the Cornhuskers loss to Iowa, Martinez had a great game
and presents a real challenge to the stout Iowa defense; however, Nebraska
this season has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, but that being
said are a very dangerous opponent for the Hawkeyes, because it will be
Nebraska’s Senior day, and the Cornhuskers have plenty of motivation going
into the game with the chance to become bowl eligible. Also, the fact Iowa
has beaten Nebraska the last four years should be plenty enough to really
fire up the Cornhuskers Friday afternoon, and Iowa will have to match that
intensity; if they do, they have a great shot at finishing the regular season
with nine wins and will land a great bowl game.
For the season, the Iowa defense is having an all-time season, allowing the
opposition just over 11 points per contest, which is top five in America. The
Iowa defense is in the top 20 in every single defensive category that is put
out. Individually, Iowa Senior quarterback Nate Stanley now has thrown for
2,639 yards on the season, with 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions, and on
the ground Iowa is led by promising freshmen Tyler Goodson, who, while he has
started only two games now, has 513 yards on the season. The Hawkeye wide outs
are led by Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has 654 yards on the season and against
the Illini Saturday, had 121 yards in receptions.
Meanwhile, the entire defense has played great and are led by A.J Epenesa, who
has seven sacks on the season, and guys like Geno Stone in the secondary and Matt
Hankins, who all have played great this season. Stone, Hankins, and Michael
Ojemudia all have interceptions this season, and the linebackers, led by
Christian Welch, have shutdown pretty much everybody the Hawkeyes have seen
this season.
The Iowa vs Nebraska game Friday indeed should be a close game, maybe
even like lasts year’s thrilling game. The Heroes’ game Friday afternoon will
kickoff at 1:30 p.m., from Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE. The game
will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

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