Each week during the season the Hawkeye Headquarters staff will predict the outcome of the Iowa football game.
Blake Hornstein (4-1): Let’s face it: Illinois is pretty good, and I would say better than Iowa.
Kirk Ferentz’s former protégé Bret Bielema has built a Hawkeye-esque defense with an offense that is actually good enough to support it.
The Fighting Illini just suffocated Wisconsin to 2 (yes, 2!!!!) yards rushing. Their defense is the best in the Big Ten in points allowed, interceptions and sacks. Running back Chase Brown also leads the country in rushing yards.
Has Iowa’s offense taken a step forward? They’ve improved in recent weeks, but not enough to give me confidence they can beat an ascending team in their home stadium.
Prediction: Illinois 21, Iowa 13
Ryan Jaster (3-2): When it comes to Iowa-Illinois, I haven’t questioned the totally irrelevant prediction since 2018, when it prognosticated a 64-0 Hawkeyes win and Iowa won 63-0, erasing a record set in Rock Island in 1899.
And this year the TIP says the Hawkeyes win 15-6 thanks to a solid run game and dominant defense — complete with a safety. That formula might not be a fan favorite anymore, but at this point a win has to be a win.
There might not be a trophy involved (give it time — I hereby nominate the Bison Bridge Trophy), but the Hawkeyes and Illini rivalry isn’t any less real. The all-time series is 38-37-2 in favor of Illinois, even with Iowa on an eight-game winning streak heading into Saturday. The Hawkologist’s prognosis is a 3 on the 6-point pain index. There’s a reason for trepidation: If the crowd shows up and Bret Bielema continues the Illini’s rise at the expense of the Hawkeyes, we might look back at this day as the one in which the programs swapped spots on the Big Ten ladder. It’s a must-win in my book.
Here’s a look at what others from near and far expect, starting with the weather from Local 4’s Tyler Ryan:
Steve Batterson: Iowa 17, Illinois 14. At some point, the Hawkeyes’ eight-game run of success against the Fighting Illini will come to an end. With Illinois coming off of a big 34-10 beatdown of Wisconsin and Iowa looking to move beyond its 27-14 loss to Michigan it would be easy to pick the Illini this week. While Bret Bielema has Illinois headed in the right direction, this is a pivotal game for Iowa. Expect the Hawkeyes to win a close one under the lights in Champaign.
Bill Connelly: Iowa 20, Illinois 18
Steven Lassan: Illinois
Mark Ross: Illinois
Ben Weinrib: Iowa
Gabe Salgado: Illinois 24, Iowa 21
Cody Hills: Iowa 17, Illinois 3