Special teams success, blockade of Illinois running game and patchy attacking performance – The Athletic



IOWA CITY, Iowa – An hour after his team beat Illinois to win their ninth game this year, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz entered his post-game press conference and was not sure if his team was tied for the top of the Big Ten West division or there alone.

By the end of his 14-minute press conference, Ferentz knew the answer, thanks to a reporter’s update. Wisconsin scored a late touchdown to beat Nebraska and remained tied with Iowa in the West Division. The Badgers hold a tiebreaker after their win over the Hawkeyes on Halloween weekend. With one game to go, Iowa still has a shot at making its first Big Ten Championship appearance since 2015, but Wisconsin is in control.

“My emotional level right now hasn’t gone down or gone when you said that,” Ferentz said upon hearing Wisconsin’s victory. “I don’t know the score. But we can’t care about it. We have to worry about a tough opponent on Friday. It’s that simple.”

Iowa ends the regular season Friday at Nebraska (3-8, 1-7). If the Hawkeyes can grab a win and Minnesota (7-4, 5-3) upsets Wisconsin at Minneapolis, then Iowa wins the Divisional Title and clinches a Big Ten title berth against Ohio State or the Michigan. Anything less, then the Hawkeyes will be waiting for their next bowl mission.

Ferentz was more eager to discuss how his No.17 Hawkeyes (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) continued their dominance over the Illini (4-7, 3-5), winning for the eighth consecutive time the total with a 33-23 victory at Kinnick Stadium. The win was barely a footnote, but it was easy to get sidetracked in the playoff drama. But it was an important victory in several key areas for Iowa.



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