Illini Drop Home Finale to Hawkeyes

An Offensive Nightmare Spoils Senior Day for Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini hosted the Iowa Hawkeyes in their last home game of the 2016 college football season, and lost by a score of 28-0. Coming off a 48-3 loss to Wisconsin last weekend, Illinois was held scoreless, something head coach Lovie Smith called “disappointing.” This loss drops their record to 3-8 overall, with just two conference wins this year.

While the Illini offense has struggled to score consistently all season, Saturday’s weather conditions certainly did not help. 20 mph winds were gusting all afternoon, which derailed an already limited Illinois passing attack. The rushing game was not able to get going either, mustering just 61 yards on 24 carries.

After an upset win over Michigan last week, the Hawkeyes looked sluggish for most of the first half against Illinois. Iowa managed only 136 yards of offense in the first half, but held a 7-0 lead at halftime. The only score came from their special teams, in the form of a punt return touchdown.

The second half, however, was dominated by the Hawkeyes. A 12-play, 77 yard touchdown drive by Iowa made it 14-0 mid-way through the third quarter, effectively putting the game away. The Fighting Illini’s offense continued to look overmatched, putting up just 30 yards of total offense in the third quarter.

The Hawkeyes continued to pound the ball in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 262 rushing yards on 49 carries. They would also add two touchdowns, closing the game out at a score of 28-0.

On the day, Illinois was forced to punt ten times, which is never a recipe for success. Senior quarterback Wes Lunt finished the game with 19 completions on 41 attempts, for 137 yards. When asked about Lunt’s performance after the game, Smith said, “He was the quarterback of a team that scored zero points today.”

The Illini will look to end their season on a positive note, as they travel to play in-state foe Northwestern next week. Iowa will host rival Nebraska.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @Awight54

 

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