CHICAGO - A win against Iowa last November failed to ease the bad taste Iowa placed Arrelious Benn’s mouth. Illinois’ star receiver on Tuesday stood by headline creating comments he made last season about the Hawkeyes.
“Yeah, I seriously dislike Iowa,” Benn said here at the Big Ten Kickoff Event. “If they were on the schedule, we were going to get them, but they’re not on the schedule.”
Every two years, the Big Ten rotates its conference slate. Two teams come on and two teams are removed from each school’s schedule. Iowa will not meet Illinois or Purdue for the next two seasons.
Last season, the Illini staved off a furious comeback from Iowa to escape with a 27-24 win in Champaign. A year earlier, the Hawkeyes upset their rivals, 10-6, in Iowa City. Illinois went onto the Rose Bowl and Iowa missed the postseason.
“I don’t think I really never did like Iowa, especially my freshman year when they rushed onto the field after they beat us in a game we shouldn’t have lost. It stems a lot from that,” said Benn, a native of Washington, D.C.
“I don’t know if it flows throughout the team, but it’s quite a bit personal for me.
Illinois quarterback Juice Williams laughed on Tuesday when he heard of Benn’s comments about disliking Iowa.
“I’ve heard that from several other players in the Big Ten,” Williams said of the opinion. “I’m not sure what’s going on there.”
Williams wasn’t willing to share his feelings on the Hawkeyes.
“I plead the fifth on that one. I plead the fifth.”
You get the sense, though, that the Illini quarterback might be on the same wave length as his receiver.
“(The Hawkeyes) recruited me and offered me a scholarship early in the process,” Williams said. “They wanted me pretty bad. They wanted me to come out and take a visit. I wasn’t really feeling Iowa. Offensively, I didn’t really like what they were doing. So, I decided to go elsewhere. I didn’t take a visit.”
Williams does respect the Hawkeyes, however.
“Every time we play Iowa, you’re guaranteed a hard-fought game,” Williams said. “Last year was probably the most physical game I’ve ever been a part of. No matter what their record says, it’s always tough to play against Iowa. You can ask Penn State about that from last year. It’s tough to play Iowa, especially at home.”
Illinois defensive lineman Doug Pilcher said it’s healthy to dislike your opponents.
“Iowa has had some success in the last however many years,” he said. “Whenever you have a good team like that it’s always fun to play them. You’re not going to like Iowa. I can’t say I like Iowa, either.”
Still, as Benn leaned back in his chair here on Tuesday, the sly smile on his face said he’ll be rooting for the Hawkeyes to lose even though Illinois doesn’t play them this year.
“Iowa, man, there’s just something about Iowa,” he said.