By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – What did we learn in Iowa’s 35-21 win over Illinois on Saturday?
We learned that, despite some inconsistency, sophomore Spencer Petras is Iowa’s starting quarterback for a reason. We also learned that Iowa can run effectively out of the Wildcat formation.
We learned that third quarter success is crucial for the Hawkeyes. We also learned that Smith-Marsette really likes playing against Illinois.
Offensive Player of the Game: Smith-Marsette. The Newark, N.J., native finished with 100 all-purpose yards, including a rushing and a receiving touchdown.
Defensive Player of the Game: The Hawkeye secondary. Iowa defensive backs held Illinois to 199 passing yards, 64 of which came on Illinois’ final drive of the game with Iowa up 35-14.
Pivotal Plays: Illinois receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe’s touchdown catch early in the second quarter gave Illinois a 14-0 lead. The play was originally ruled incomplete, but the call was reviewed and overturned.
With Iowa struggling on offense, Petras completed an 11-yard pass to Ihmir Smith-Marsette on fourth down and three. On the ensuing play, Petras completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Sam LaPorta to make the score 14-7 with 6:18 left in the second quarter. The touchdown also was the first of LaPorta’s career.
Smith-Marsette’s four-yard touchdown catch on Iowa’s first drive of the second half gave Iowa its first lead of the game at 21-14.
Senior tight end Shaun Beyer’s first career touchdown reception with 12:40 left in the fourth quarter extended Iowa’s lead to 28-14
Key Stats: After starting 8-of-8 passing, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters completed two of his next 10 passes before being replaced by Isaiah Williams in the fourth quarter.
Iowa rushed for 160 yards in the second half after rushing for 45 yards in the first half.
Petras started the game 3-of-7 passing, but finished 15-of-21 for 220 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Weird Stats: Iowa was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time since a week one loss at Purdue.
Iowa did not record its first sack until the fourth quarter.
Did You Know?: Smith-Marsette is the 24th player in Iowa history to have at least 100 career receptions.
Petras threw multiple touchdowns for the first time in his career.
Series Update: Iowa has now won seven consecutive games against Illinois, but still trails in the all-time series 38-36-2.
Illinois has not beaten Iowa since 2008. The teams did not play from 2009-13.