Sep 10, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema on the sidelines of Saturday   s game with the Virginia Cavaliers in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema, Illinois face Iowa in old-fashioned Big Ten matchup

Last week, Bret Bielema led Illinois against Wisconsin in his first trip to Madison since giving up the Badgers’ head coaching gig to take over at Arkansas in 2012.

Arguably, though, Bielema identifies more with his 11 years at Iowa than his seven seasons at Wisconsin — and he’s had a Hawkeye tattoo on his left calf since 1990 to prove it.

“Hell of an idea when you’re 19,” joked Bielema, who played on Iowa’s defensive line for four years, coached under Hayden Fry for four years and then spent Kirk Ferentz’s first three seasons at Iowa as his linebackers coach.

Ferentz brings his Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) to Champaign, Ill. Saturday night at a time when Illinois (4-1, 1-1) is riding its best start since 2015 and threatening to earn its first Associated Press Top 25 poll appearance since 2011.

Of course, that would require Illinois to beat Iowa for the first time since 2008 — and this one could develop into an old-school Big Ten clash where points are at a premium.

Iowa, coming off a 27-14 loss to No. 4 Michigan, boasts the nation’s third-best scoring defense (10.0 ppg) and stands eighth overall in total yards allowed. But Illinois trumps that as defensive coordinator Ryan Walters’ unit ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (8.4 ppg) and No. 3 in yards allowed.

In Saturday’ 34-10 win at Wisconsin, Illinois’ multiple-look defense stacked up five sacks and two interceptions while holding the Badgers to 2 net rushing yards.

Iowa’s offense ranks a distant last among Big Ten teams in points (16.4 per game) and yards (242.2 per game), which has Bielema on high alert.

“Because of (our success) there’s a cousin that creeps in this world called complacency — and you just think these (good) things are going to happen,” Bielema said. “That brings victims out of all of us, right? So with our coaches, our players, anybody that speaks on it, that’s our big challenge.”

One of Iowa’s biggest challenges will be slowing down Illinois senior Chase Brown, who leads the nation with 733 rushing yards and owns six consecutive 100-yard games dating back to last year’s season finale against Northwestern.

“They’ve got an outstanding running back, not just a good running back,” Ferentz said. “A lot of the same challenges (as last week against Michigan) because these guys are really balanced. They make you defend the entire field and then their back is not the same as last week, but similar. He’s a really tough runner. He really runs hard and makes extra yards. We’re going to have to do a better job of getting off blocks and hopefully getting to the ball a little bit better.”

–Field Level Media

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards (7) rushes during a NCAA Big Ten Conference college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Blake Corum, No. 4 Michigan run over Iowa

Blake Corum rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown and Michigan’s defense recorded four sacks as the fourth-ranked Wolverines defeated Iowa 27-14 at Iowa City on Saturday.

J.J. McCarthy completed 18-of-24 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Corum, who leads the nation with 10 rushing touchdowns, carried 29 times.

Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) held the Hawkeyes to 35 rushing yards in its first road game this season.

Iowa (3-2, 1-1) had defeated five of its past six Top 5 opponents at home. Spencer Petras was 21-of-31 passing for 246 yards and a touchdown.

Michigan outgained Iowa 236-91 and picked up 18 first downs while taking a 13-0 halftime lead. Corum had 79 yards on 16 carries before the break.

The Wolverines used 11 plays to drive 75 yards after the opening kickoff and take the lead. Ronnie Bell scored on a 16-yard reverse.

Michigan’s second scoring drive required 13 plays as the Wolverines settled for Jake Moody’s 44-yard field goal at 8:28 of the second quarter.

Moody drilled a 35-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the half for the 13-0 lead.

McCarthy eluded the blitz on a third down and found Donovan Edwards in the back of the end zone on a 12-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter and a 20-0 margin. That capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive featuring an 18-yard hookup from McCarthy to tight end Luke Schoonmaker.

Iowa finally got on the scoreboard with Kaleb Johnson’s 2-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The touchdown was set up by Petras’ 28-yard completion to Nico Ragaini and cut the Wolverines’ lead to 20-7.

The Hawkeyes gained 78 yards on 13 plays during their next possession but turned the ball over on downs at the Wolverines 6 with 5:41 remaining.

Iowa then held the Wolverines without a first down but Petras was sacked twice after the Hawkeyes got the ball back. Corum capped Michigan’s victory with a 20-yard touchdown run with 1:19 remaining.

Petras’ 5-yard pass to Luke Lachey with eight seconds left completed the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Evan Simon (3) throws against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s defense smothers Rutgers, 27-10

Iowa relied on two defensive touchdowns in the first half to take down host Rutgers 27-10 on Saturday night in Piscataway, N.J.

Cooper DeJean returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Kaevon Merriweather added a 30-yard fumble return in the second to give the Hawkeyes (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) an early advantage. Merriweather added a pick in the third quarter.

Leshon Williams took 11 carries for 64 yards and touchdown for Iowa. Spencer Petras completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards.

For Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten), Evan Simon — who entered the game with 411 career passing yards — threw for 300 yards on 28-of-49 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Rutgers drove 66 yards in 12 plays on the game’s opening drive, topped off by Jude McAtamney’s 28-yard field goal.

But on the Scarlet Knights’ second possession, Simon was hit as he threw a deep ball that DeJean caught over his shoulder, marking his third straight game with an interception. He crossed the field and made multiple tacklers miss on his touchdown return with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

Iowa punter Tory Taylor pinned Rutgers at its own 7 during the second quarter. On third-and-5 from the 12, Simon connected with Joshua Youngblood on the run for what would have been a first down. Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro drilled the ball loose, and Merriweather picked it up and ran down the sideline for a touchdown.

Iowa led 14-3 despite gaining just 53 yards of offense on its first three possessions. The Hawkeyes added an 87-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Drew Stevens 21 seconds before halftime.

The Hawkeyes marched down the field to open the second half, and one play after Rutgers’ Christian Braswell committed pass interference on third-and-goal, Williams scored from 2 yards out for a 24-3 lead.

The Scarlet Knights had a 16-play, 82-yard drive peter out on downs at the Iowa 7-yard line. But after they forced a punt, Aron Cruickshank caught an 18-yard touchdown while falling on his back to cut it to 24-10 with 11:15 to play.

Stevens’ field goal attempt from 51 yards hit the inside of the left upright and fell through, giving Iowa a 17-point cushion with 6:08 left.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Gavin Williams (25) runs the ball against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa trounces Nevada in game marred by weather

Freshman Kaleb Johnson rushed for a career-high 103 yards with two touchdowns to lead Iowa to a 27-0 win over visiting Nevada in a game that extended into Sunday morning at Iowa City, Iowa, because of three weather delays.

The game ended at 1:40 a.m. local time.

The contest was suspended due to lightning at 8:43 p.m., with 10:02 remaining in the third quarter and the Hawkeyes leading 17-0. After being cleared to return to the field, another delay was called at 10:08 p.m. The teams resumed at 11:55 p.m., but after one play, they went into a third weather delay.

The game resumed for good at 12:38 a.m.

The scoring output is a season-high for the Hawkeyes, who beat South Dakota State 7-3 in the season opener and lost 10-7 last week to Iowa State.

After having to punt on their first two possessions, the Hawkeyes scored on a 40-yard run by Johnson, the first touchdown of his career, with 4:36 left in the first quarter.

Iowa’s defense forced Nevada to punt five times in the first half and Cooper DeJean intercepted Wolf Pack quarterback Shane Illingworth in the other possession.

The interception gave Iowa the ball at the Nevada 41. Five plays later, Spencer Petras completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Arland Bruce IV to increase the lead to 14-0 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.

Petras finished 14-of-26 passing for 175 yards and the score.

Iowa put together an 11-play, 69-yard drive on its next possession that ended with a 43-yard field goal by Drew Stevens.

The Hawkeyes had 197 yards of total offense compared to Nevada’s 64 at halftime. They finished with 337 total yards and Nevada had 151.

After play resumed, Iowa scored the last 10 points on a 33-yard field goal by Stevens with 2:40 left in the third quarter and Johnson’s 55-yard run with 8:22 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) warms up during a NCAA football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa, last in offense, sticks with QB Spencer Petras

The Iowa Hawkeyes rank last in the nation in both scoring and total offense, but coach Kirk Ferentz decided Tuesday to stick with quarterback Spencer Petras for Saturday’s nonconference game against visiting Nevada.

The Hawkeyes are averaging seven points and 158 yards per game, the latter easily the worst among the nation’s 131 FBS programs. Colorado State, ranked 130th, averages 232.5 yards.

Petras is just 23-of-51 passing (45.1 percent) for 201 yards, no touchdowns and two inceptions in the two games. Alex Padilla, who started three games last season when Petras was hurt, is the backup.

“We obviously spent a lot of time looking at it, considering it, talking about it,” Ferentz said at a Tuesday press conference. “It’s really tough to give an honest evaluation right now. I’ve talked to Alex about the same thing. No matter who’s in there right now, we’ve got some challenges, and we’ve got to work through those and try to improve in those, and then we’ll have a fairer way to assess.”

Petras passed for 1,880 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games (11 starts) last season. He was the named the 2022 starter shortly before the start of this season.

But Iowa (1-1) has scored just one touchdown in two games. The Hawkeyes beat South Dakota State 7-3 with a field goal and two safeties in the season opener and again struggled in last Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Iowa State.

Padilla threw for 636 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances (three starts) last season.

Iowa fans have been harshly critical of the offense — Brian Ferentz, son of the coach, is offensive coordinator — and the head coach has noticed.

“I’m not asking anybody to agree with me,” Kirk Ferentz said. “I’m guessing fans aren’t agreeing, and maybe the media, but everybody’s entitled to their opinions, I’m all for that. What our jobs are, and my job, ultimately, I’m the head coach, is to decide what’s best for our football team and our program. That’s my assessment at this point.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa State football head coach Matt Campbell (22) celebrates with running back Deon Silas (22) after a touchdown against Southeast Missouri State during the fourth quarter in the season opening  home game at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State seeks first win over Iowa with Matt Campbell at helm

Iowa State travels east on Saturday looking for its first win over the host Iowa Hawkeyes since Matt Campbell took over as Cyclones head coach for the 2016 season.

Could this be the year? Iowa State (1-0) opened its season last week by pulling away from a 21-10 halftime lead to throttle visiting Southeast Missouri State 42-10.

Iowa (1-0) had a decidedly more difficult time in Iowa City, with the defense (two safeties) outscoring the offense (one field goal), but still beating perennial FCS power South Dakota State 7-3 last Saturday.

Perhaps it’s not such a surprise that one of the questions for Campbell at his weekly press conference was about Iowa’s punter, Tory Taylor, who averaged 47.9 yards on 10 punts.

“He’s an outstanding player. … Talk about the ability to change field position,” Campbell said. “They’re also really good in their coverage units. They also have 10 other guys who do a great job around him.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said he was impressed with Iowa State’s Hunter Dekkers, a first-year starter at quarterback. Dekkers completed 25 of 31 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the season opener.

“He really looked poised. Made good throws the other day, and they hit some big plays,” Ferentz said. “They’ve got a good group of receivers. Tough to defend. But the biggest thing, he just looked like he was totally under control … and he can pull it down and run it, too.”

Eight of Dekkers’ completions, and three of his touchdowns, went to wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson.

“He’s a really good football player, and then on top of it they do a really good job of moving him around, so he’s not always in plays,” Ferentz said. “You don’t know where he’s going to show up, and they did a nice job the other day of getting a personnel mismatch and they made the opponent pay for it.”

Iowa starting quarterback Spencer Petras completed only 11 of 25 passes for 109 yards last Saturday, and Ferentz fell far short of endorsing him as the long-term starter over junior Alex Padilla.

“Our intention right now is to go out and play, and we’ll evaluate everything as it comes,” Ferentz said.

The sputtering offense drew some boos from the home crowd over the weekend.

“Everybody on the team is human, so I’m sure they hear it,” Ferentz said of his players. “I’m going to say it’s unfortunate, but it’s just — it is what it is. It’s sports and that’s the world we live in today.”

Campbell said Iowa’s absences on offense make it difficult to know what to expect this weekend.

“First games are first games, so it’s really hard to evaluate, especially when you have a lot of guys out, but I think there’s a lot of impressive pieces with that,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Iowa defensive lineman John Waggoner and linebacker Seth Benson (44) tackle South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski during a NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa defeats South Dakota State, 7-3, without scoring TD

Linebacker Jack Campbell and defensive end Joe Evans recorded safeties that proved to be the difference as Iowa took down South Dakota State 7-3 on Saturday afternoon at Iowa City, Iowa, in the season opener for both teams.

Campbell, who was named preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, dragged running back Isaiah Davis into the end zone late in the third quarter to break a 3-3 tie. Evans then sealed the victory by sacking quarterback Mark Gronowski with 3:58 remaining in the fourth.

Iowa had a chance to extend its narrow lead following Campbell’s safety, but running back Leshon Williams fumbled at the South Dakota State 7 to give possession, and hope, back to the visitors.

But Gronowski and the Jackrabbits offense couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and were held scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Gronowski threw for 87 yards on 10-for-26 passing. Davis added 50 yards on 18 carries and hauled in five receptions for 27 yards.

Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras was 11 of 25 for 109 yards with an interception. Arland Bruce IV finished with five catches for 68 yards, and Williams carried the ball 24 times for 72 yards.

The teams combined for a total of 21 punts.

Offense came at a premium in the first half. South Dakota State put up 76 total yards (52 passing, 24 rushing), while Iowa managed just 56 (41 passing, 15 rushing). The teams combined for just seven first downs.

It looked like South Dakota State wasn’t going to score during the first 30 minutes of action, but linebacker Caleb Francl intercepted Petras to set up a 44-yard field goal from Hunter Dustman to tie things at 3-3 heading into the break.

Petras struggled in the opening half, completing 6 of 15 passes for a measly 41 yards.

After missing a 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of Iowa’s second drive of the game, Aaron Blom redeemed himself by making good on a 46-yarder to open the scoring with 1:11 left in the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) runs a drill during the Kids Day at Kinnick NCAA football practice, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Spencer Petras tabbed as Iowa’s starting QB

Spencer Petras will be the starting quarterback when Iowa opens the season against visiting South Dakota State on Saturday.

Petras outdueled Alex Padilla during fall camp to retain the position. They also battled during spring drills.

“It’s a long evaluation and we evaluate everything about our guys, starting in January,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “Both Spencer and Alex are both quality guys. But just the time on the field, I think Spencer has outperformed Alex a little bit at this point. I think he’s further ahead and gives us a better chance to be successful.”

Petras passed for 1,880 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games (11 starts) last season. He also was a part-time starter in 2020 when he passed for 1,569 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

“I’m excited to get out there,” Petras told reporters. “With experience, everything gets better. I’m really happy with how I’m throwing the ball right now. … The mental side of it gets easier as you go.”

Padilla threw for 636 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances (three starts) last season.

Ferentz said he wouldn’t hesitate to use both quarterbacks.

“I think we have two quarterbacks that are better than they were a year ago,” Ferentz said. “Right now, we just got to try to support those guys, try to build a good team around them.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, center, reacts during a NCAA college football game in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Kentucky, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz receives extension through 2029

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz received a four-year extension through the 2029 season, the school announced Friday.

Ferentz, who had four seasons remaining on his current deal, will receive $56 million — $7 million annually — over the next eight seasons. He was slated to make $5.1 million next season before the extension.

The university said the 66-year-old Ferentz will receive $500,000 in base salary, $5.5 million in supplemental compensation and a $1 million longevity bonus each year until the deal expires on Jan. 31, 2030.

Ferentz will be 74 when the deal concludes. He just completed his 23rd season as coach of the Hawkeyes and is the nation’s longest-tenured coach.

“Kirk’s consistent leadership and success over 23 years has been amazing and appreciated as he has led our football program in a first-class manner,” athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement. “His success over the past 23 years speaks for itself. He is an asset to the University of Iowa and our athletics department as a whole. The foundation of his program is strong, and the future looks bright.”

Iowa went 10-4 in the just-completed season. The Hawkeyes reached the Big Ten title game before being routed 42-3 by Michigan and later lost 20-17 to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

Overall, the Hawkeyes have recorded seven 10-wins season under Ferentz, who owns the school mark for victories. He is 178-110.

Ferentz replaced legendary Hayden Fry, who spent 20 years as coach beginning in 1979. If Ferentz completes the contract, Iowa will have had just two head coaches over a 51-season span.

“I am grateful to President Barb Wilson and athletics director Gary Barta for their continued support of our program,” Ferentz said in the news release. “I am proud of the success that we have achieved inIowa City the past 23 years and look forward to many more years of competing at the highest level.”

Iowa begins Ferentz’s 24th season on the job with a home game against South Dakota State on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Iowa junior center Tyler Linderbaum battles Illinois junior defensive lineman Calvin Avery during a drive in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum enters NFL draft

All-America center Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa declared for the NFL draft on Friday.

He won the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the best center in the nation, in 2021 and is a likely first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

“These last four years have been nothing short of amazing,” Linderbaum wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “Being able to play the game I love with the best teammates and coaches in front of the best fan base in the world has been a dream come true. I will forever be thankful for all the love and support I have received over the last four years and truly could not imagine my time anywhere else.”

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Linderbaum made news last month when he donated all of the $30,000 he earned in NIL (name, image and likeness) funds to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which overlooks the Hawkeyes’ home field, Kinnick Stadium.

–FIeld Level Media