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Two more Iowa running backs were injured in this game, including a very scary moment early in the contest.
After catching a swing pass, Aaron Mickens was hit on the sideline and lowered his head as he anticipated contact from an Illini defender. Mickens then lay motionless on the Illinois sideline for approximately 10 minutes. He was taken off the field in an ambulance. In game reports said that Mickens suffered a concussion along with some back pain, but he has full movement of his extremities.
Then his backup, Champ Davis, injured his knee in the second quarter. Reports were that it was a strain, the same in game diagnosis that Marcus Schnoor, Albert Young and Jermelle Lewis had earlier in the year. All three of those players ended up with season ending ACL injuries.
Kirk Ferentz said in the post game that Davis' prognosis does not look good.
After a sluggish first quarter that saw the Hawkeyes driving into a sustained 25 to 30 mile per hour wind, the Hawkeyes bounced back and tied the game at 7-7 heading into the half.
Kirk Ferentz said on the Learfield Radio broadcast that the team that won the third quarter would likely win the game.
Illinois elected to take the ball with the wind in their face, wanting the wind in their back in the fourth quarter. That decision proved to be a fateful one, as Iowa forced a fumble deep in Illini territory that led to an Iowa score and the Hawkeyes would score another touchdown and blocked a punt for a safety as well.
Illinois had four first downs on their first drive of the game and just three more first downs before their final drive of the game when they were trailing by 16.
Ed Hinkel caught five passes for a career high 108 yards and two touchdowns. He was definitely Iowa’s big play maker in this game.
Drew Tate was 24 of 31 for 243 yards and two touchdown passes to one interception. Tate also scored on a five yard run in the third quarter.
This was another total team effort for the Hawkeyes. Sam Brownlee gained 50 yards on 19 carries as the ground game did just enough to allow Iowa’s play action passing game the chance to pick the Illini apart in the third quarter.
Warren Holloway will not show up big on the stat sheet, but he made a fantastic block that allowed Hinkel to score on one of his touchdowns, and his extra effort on one of his catches, after Tate had spun to avoid a sack, picked up a first down. Tate later scored on this drive.
Iowa’s defense did a fantastic job once again, shutting down Illinois’ running game and allowing just 156 total yards prior to Illinois’ final two drives where they were in a hurry up mode and went exclusively through the air.
Jon Beutjer played the entire fourth quarter and led the Illini on their final scoring drive, but he was picked off by Antwan Allen deep in Iowa territory on Illinios’ second to last drive of the day on a pass that went off the hands of his intended receiver.
NOTES: Illinios’ players, coaches and fans deserve some appreciation for their concern when Aaron Mickens went down. Head Coach Ron Turner was by Mickens’ side while he was down, and he was visibly concerned. Beutjer took a knee and appeared to be praying during that time, and the Illini fans gave Mickens a nice ovation as he left the field on an ambulance.
Iowa went 4-0 in the month of October, and Kirk Ferentz is now 11-4 in the month since the start of the 2001 season.
Neither team scored a point heading into the fierce winds.
Iowa moves to 6-2 with the win and 4-1 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes became bowl eligible with the victory. Next week’s opponent, the Purdue Boilermakers, lost to Northwestern 13-10 in Evanston, their third consecutive loss.
Iowa’s home contest against Purdue will be broadcast to a nationwide audience on ESPN, a 2:30pm (central) start.