Illinois (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 22 Iowa (5-0, 1-0) Noon. (ESPN2)
Line: Iowa by 11
Series Record: Illinois leads 38-30-2
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Iowa’s first game as a Top 25 team in five years could be its last for a while if it can’t beat Illinois. The Illini, a surprise so far, would move within a game of bowl eligibility with a win in Iowa City.
Iowa’s secondary vs. Illinois QB Wes Lunt: Lunt is averaging 221 yards passing per game. But the Hawkeyes have an outstanding secondary, led by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate Desmond King. King, a cornerback, has five picks in five games – including two in last week’s 10-6 win at Wisconsin.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Illinois: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn: The likely absence of senior Josh Ferguson means that Vaughn will get a chance to prove why Notre Dame, Ohio State and others offered the freshman a scholarship. But Iowa’s rush defense is stout. The Hawkeyes are the only team in the country without a rushing TD allowed.
Iowa: CB Greg Mabin: King has become so dominant that Illinois will likely avoid throwing in his direction as much as it can. That’ll put more pressure on Mabin, who has shown plenty of promise in his year and a half as a starter.
FACTS & FIGURES
Despite being border rivals, Iowa and Illinois have not played in Kinnick Stadium since 2007. The Hawkeyes won 10-6, highlighting one of the most disappointing seasons that coach Kirk Ferentz has ever had in 17 years with the Hawkeyes…Illinois is off to its best start since 2011, when it won its first six games. Iowa is 5-0 for the first time since 2009…The Illini have lost 19 of their last 20 against ranked teams…With a win, Ferentz will tie former Ohio State coach John Cooper with 70 Big Ten victories.