Illinois football had the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes in the crosshairs but let them walk away with the win.
I don’t think my heart can handle much more of these Illini disappointments. Once again, we had a Big Ten win in our grasp, but something always goes wrong at the end of the game.
Iowa shouldn’t have won the game. Illinois was the better team throughout, except when the game was on the line. Then the Illini turned into an FCS program. It was one of the most frustrating losses of the season, as we fell to the Hawkeyes, 15-13. Now we have a win-or-go-home game this upcoming Saturday.
Here are five observations from the Illinois football loss to Iowa
1. Illinois defense didn’t show up in the clutch
There isn’t a lot I can say negatively about the Illinois defense. When you give up 15 points in any game, that should be an accomplishment.
Against Iowa, the Illini defense looked solid for much of the game. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes only had nine points and they couldn’t sustain drives. And then the drive happened.
Illinois was up 13-9 and all we had to do was stop Iowa one more time. We had the Hawkeyes to third down on that final drive too, but they converted it with a nine-yard pass. After a holding call on Illinois, Iowa did what they usually do. They ran it up the middle.
Instead of making a tackle, the Illini failed to stop Iowa’s running back, and he went for 30 yards into the end zone.
Illinois’ defense had played so well leading up to that gut punch of a touchdown. This was a brutal way to lose a game, and it all rests on the shoulders of the Illinois defense. The thing that frustrates me the most is that we could have tackled Kaleb Johnson. He ran it right up the middle, and at least two Illinois defenders failed to do their job.
Once again, the Illini let the game slip through the cracks. This should have been another win, another Big Ten win, and another win over a top 25 program. But we couldn’t finish the game.