By the numbers: Illinois

Illinois is a solid team running the ball, but its defense has been one of the conference’s worst this season.


Joseph Cress

Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg pulls in a catch during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 45-16.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

After a string of tough losses to some of the best teams in the Big Ten, Iowa now gets a chance to face off against a cellar dweller in Illinois. For the Illini, it’s been a season that their fans have come to expect.  There’s not much Illinois has done well this season, but that doesn’t make it a complete pushover. The Illini have had an explosive offense that has shown itself at times, such as its output against Minnesota.

2,628: Illini rushing yards

The best thing that Illinois has done this year has been run the football.

The Illini are second in the Big Ten with 2,628 rushing yards this season, and that’s also good enough to rank them 11th nationally. Illinois’ leading rusher is Reggie Corbin, who has 1,011 yards on the ground.

Part of the reason Illinois is so effective at running the football is the numerous ways it gets yards on the ground.

Five players have at least 100 yards on the ground, which includes quarterback A.J. Bush, who has 659 rushing yards; 187 of those yards came from last week’s game against Nebraska, in which he torched the Husker defense.

51: Touchdowns allowed

When Lovie Smith coached in the NFL, he was praised as a defensive coach. He cannot be proud of the way his Illinois defense looks this year.

The Illini have allowed at least 40 points in their last five games and six times this season, and they rank dead last in the Big Ten in points allowed, yards allowed, and touchdowns allowed per game.

To put into perspective just how bad this Illinois defense has been, it’s allowed nine more touchdowns than the team that has given up the second most touchdowns.

After a rough showing last week against Northwestern, Nate Stanley and Co. should be able to put up some solid numbers this week.

14: Interceptions

Not much to look at on the defensive side of the Illini football, but the one thing it has done well is pick off opposing quarterbacks.

Currently, the Illini sit tied with Iowa for second in the Big Ten with 14 picks.

The interceptions have been a team effort — 10 Illinois defenders have wound up with 1. Del’Shawn Phillips and Jartavius Martin lead the team, each with 3.