By Courtney Baumann
The Iowa football team heads into its bye week coming off a win over Illinois. The victory, although against the struggling Illini, was needed after the Hawkeyes dropped two in a row to Penn State and Michigan State.
Now 4-2, the team finally has its first Big Ten win of the season. Though the Hawkeyes won and there were areas of improvement, there were also some areas of concern when looking at the team on paper.
Illinois total offense: 446
Though Iowa faced the worst team in the Big Ten in total offense, the Illini managed to put up 446 yards in Kinnick. Coming into the game, Illinois averaged just 267.3 yards per game — that number bumped up to 303.0 yards per game after the team trooped through Kinnick.
This is not the first time this season Iowa has allowed for a team to move the ball down the field. Iowa ranked No. 12 in the Big Ten in total defense, giving up 420.6 yards per game. While this number could be concerning, it is overshadowed by Iowa giving up just 18.7 points per game.
The “bend but don’t break” mentality has been strong halfway through the season for the Hawkeyes; they have only given up 12 touchdowns to go along with the 1,456 yards they have allowed.
However, as the season progresses, it may get more difficult for the Iowa defense to stop teams when they are marching down the field for more than 400 yards a game — especially when the Hawkeyes are set to face teams such as Ohio State and Wisconsin in the upcoming month.
Illinois turnovers (including downs): 6
This is where Iowa struggled against Michigan State but thrived when facing the Illini.
In East Lansing, Iowa did not force a single turnover during its 17-10 loss. The next week, the Hawkeye defense picked off Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. three times, recovered a fumble, and forced two turnovers on downs.
The turnovers Iowa benefited from resulted in 24 of the Hawkeyes’ 45 points — nearly 2.5 times the number they scored against Michigan State.
Collecting turnovers resulted in solid field position for the Hawkeyes, giving the offense a much better chance to score than when it was continually pinned deep in its own territory for nearly all of the game against the Spartans.
Iowa has intercepted 8 passes this season, tying Wisconsin for No. 2 in the conference. Only Penn State sits ahead of the Hawkeyes with 9.
Iowa penalties: 3-18
In a large improvement from the game against Michigan State, Iowa gave up only 18 yards on 3 penalties. Against the Spartans, the Hawkeyes were flagged 7 times for 47 yards.
Iowa has been relatively successful in comparison with the rest of the Big Ten when it comes to keeping penalty yards to a minimum. Through the first half of the season, the Hawkeyes average 43.7 penalty yards per game, No. 3 in the conference.
Additionally, Iowa has also been successful in getting a flag pulled on the opposing team. Opponents have been flagged 42 times for 379 yards against the Hawkeyes, fourth in the Big Ten.