A monstrous day for Jordan Canzeri sent the Hawkeyes to a perfect at 6-0.
Canzeri rushed for a crazy 256 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns Saturday to power Iowa to a 29-20 win over visiting Illinois in Iowa City.
The Illini defense, which has played well of late, continued to be significantly better than it has been the past two seasons. But it had no answer for Canzeri and an Iowa offense that’s been among the conference’s best.
The two teams traded early touchdowns, and the Illinois defense stood tall on a pair of first-half goal-line stands, forcing a turnover on downs on the first. That netted nothing, though, for the Illini offense, and the Hawkeyes went on a touchdown drive the next time it had the ball, scoring on C.J. Beathard’s screen-pass to Canzeri. The second goal-to-go stop forced a field goal, and the Illini headed to the break trailing, 16-7.
Illinois’ offense looked like a completely different unit after halftime, though, twice driving into the red zone, though both of those drives resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns, keeping the Illini behind on the scoreboard.
To show how important those missed opportunities were, Iowa answered the second field goal with a 75-yard Canzeri touchdown run on the opening play of the next drive, turning a three-point game into a 10-point game.
Illinois’ offense made what could have been a critical mistake on the opening play of the fourth quarter, as on third-and-one, the Illini ran a double-reverse pass on which Geronimo Allison was intercepted. Iowa didn’t do anything with that, though, and Illinois made it a three-point game once again when Wes Lunt hit Allison for a 53-yard touchdown.
The Illini defense bent but didn’t break, stalling the Hawkeyes in the red zone and forcing them to kick a field goal and keep it a one-possession game. But as soon as Illinois got the ball back, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn fumbled and turned the ball over, setting up another Iowa field goal that made it a nine-point game.
Canzeri was the offensive star for Iowa. He toted the ball 43 times for his 256 rushing yards, the majority of a 271-yard rushing day for the Hawkeyes. He had one touchdown rush and one touchdown catch. Beathard also had a strong afternoon, throwing for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for an additional 29 yards.
Lunt had a big day for the Illini, throwing for 317 yards and a touchdown. The Hawkeyes held the Illini to a jaw-dropping 46 rushing yards on 24 rushing attempts on the day.
Iowa out-gained Illinois by more than 100 yards, 478-363.
The Hawkeyes improved to a perfect 6-0 with the win and are looking more and more like the team to beat in the Big Ten West each week. The Illini, meanwhile, dropped to 4-2 with the loss and sit at 1-1 in conference play.