By Zain Bando - IlliniGuys Student Correspondent
October 7, 2022
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Loyalty)
Illinois has taken the Big Ten by storm, and the national media is starting to notice. Head coach Bret Bielema has appeared on Kirk Herbstreit’s Top Performing Coaches lists, several television appearances including “Unfiltered” with David Kaplan, among many others, ahead of Illinois’ nightcap with Iowa Saturday.
Illinois enters the game at 4-1 (1-1 B1G) as part of a six-way for first in the Big Ten West, while Iowa 3-2 (1-1 B1G), who was trounced at home a week ago against Michigan, will look to make it nine-straight against the Illini.
But when was the last time Illinois beat its hated rival from Iowa City? The short answer is that it has been a minute.
We have to turn the clock all the way back to 2008. For some context, the iPhone had just come out a year prior, cable television was still a thing, Twitter wasn’t what it is today, and the Big Ten Network was still new.
And yes, the most important part, Illinois was actually relevant in the college football landscape. The Illini had played in the Rose Bowl to cap off the 2007 season but lost to a 2000s juggernaut in the USC Trojans, a team which appeared in three national title games under current Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll.
By the time Illinois played Iowa in 2008, autumn was well underway. The Illini were in the thick of bowl contention by that point and were 4-4, while Iowa had won its last two games entering Champaign and were 5-3 after snapping a three-game losing skid earlier that year.
The game took place at the beginning of November in front of a jam-packed Memorial Stadium crowd. It featured various lead changes, but ultimately, one Iowa mistake late in the second half costed the Hawkeyes the game — a critical interception from Vontae Davis.
The Illini controlled much of the game and led 24-9 before giving up two Ricky Stanzi touchdown drives to tie the score at 24 all late in the fourth quarter. Despite the rally, the Hawkeyes gave up six sacks to the Illini defense and kept running back Shonn Greene in check for much of the game as well, only allowing the future NFL veteran to find the end zone once.
On the final drive, Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, who finished with 272 passing yards, drove his offense into field goal range to set up the winning kick, which was drilled by Matt Eller from 46 yards out. The Illini won 27-24 to the jubilation of the home crowd.
Unfortunately for Orange and Blue, it would be the last win of the season, failing to reach a bowl game and finishing 5-7. The Hawkeyes, however, won the Outback Bowl with a 31-10 win against South Carolina to cap off a 9-4 season.
Kickoff for the 2022 Memorial Stadium rematch is set for 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
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