Halftime Reactions | Iowa football tied with Illinois, 6-6

The Hawkeyes’ Drew Stevens and the Fighting Illini’s Fabrizio Pinton were responsible for the 12 combined points scored in the first-half kickers’ derby.


Grace Smith

Iowa kicker Drew Stevens kicks a field goal during a football game between Iowa and Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Austin Hanson and Chloe Peterson

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Iowa football is tied with Illinois, 6-6, at halftime at Memorial Stadium. The Hawkeyes’ first score of the half came on their first drive of the game. After a return to the Fighting Illini 27-yard line from true freshman running back Kaleb Johnson, the Hawkeyes pieced together a 10-play, 59-yard drive. Quarterback Spencer Petras went 3-of-5 for 62 yards.

From that point on, things began to deteriorate for Iowa’s offense. The Hawkeyes started two second-quarter drives inside the Fighting Illini 45-yard line — one at the 33 and another at the 5.

Iowa’s drive that started at the 33 ended with a 27-yard Tory Taylor punt to the Illinois 14. The drive was three plays for -6 yards.

Iowa’s drive that started at the Illinois 5-yard line ended with a 27-yard Drew Stevens field goal. The drive was four plays for -4 yards.

The Hawkeyes capped the half with a 10-play, 52-yard drive that ended with Stevens missing a 45-yard field goal.

DeVito’s injury levels playing field for Iowa

Illinois’ offense ranked well above Iowa’s before the two teams collided in Champaign Saturday. The Fighting Illini and Hawkeyes were rated 54th and 130th in the nation in total offense, respectively, through five weeks of action.

An injury to Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito might’ve leveled the playing field for Iowa. I know, Illinois has a run-centric offense. Running back Chase Brown led the country in rushing yards after Week 5 with 733 yards.

But, against the Hawkeyes’ 13th-ranked rush defense, the Illini will be forced to throw the ball at some point. Without DeVito, I don’t see Illinois getting many completions from backup Artur Sitkowski in critical third and fourth-down situations. If Illinois can’t run or throw a short pass on third and fourth down, like it did in the first half, it will struggle to keep its drives alive.

DeVito has been a revelation for the Illini this year. The Syracuse transfer has thrown for 1,163 yards and nine touchdowns. Sitkowski, who is a junior in terms of eligibility, hasn’t passed for more than 1,000 yards in a season since 2018 when he was with Rutgers. Sitkowski has never thrown more than six touchdowns in a season.

I expect the Illini to continue to emphasize the run in the second half because of the limitations they have with Sitkowski under center. This game may be turning into a race to see which team can score nine points first.

Iowa’s offense won’t have to be spectacular to win this contest, but neither will Illinois’.

— Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Watching Iowa’s offense is growing more painful

I really don’t have any words for Iowa’s offense at this point. It’s an inconsistent mess. 

I thought it was crazy that Iowa couldn’t find a way to score after Jack Campbell recovered a Tory Taylor punt at Illinois’ 33-yard line. But then, linebacker Seth Benson recovers an Illinois fumble, and Iowa has literally five yards to go to the end zone.

Easy touchdown, right?


Iowa did about everything wrong that it could in a drive that ended with -4 yards and just a field goal to tie the game.

First, quarterback Spencer Petras had an incomplete pass to running back Leshon Williams. Second, Iowa ran the ball (against the No. 3 run defense in the country) for a loss. Third, offensive lineman Beau Stephens was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Iowa settled for a field goal. The Hawkeyes kicked a field goal when they started their drive on the 5-yard line.

I watched the Thursday Night Football game between the Broncos and the Colts, and I saw the comparisons between the Broncos and the Hawkeyes’ offenses. For those of you not watching this Saturday night game on BTN, I can assure you that this is more painful to watch.

— Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor