Game Day Central | No. 16 Iowa 15, Illinois 13, FINAL

Well, no bowl game yet for Illinois. And no chance to play in the Big Ten championship game anymore.

Kaleb Johnson and Iowa made sure to end those chances for the Illini when Iowa rallied for a 15-13 win on Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium.

Johnson broke through the Illinois defense for a game-winning 30-yard touchdown run with 4:43 left in the fourth quarter and then the Illinois offense couldn’t pick up a first down against the Hawkeyes before Iowa ran the rest of the clock out.

Illinois (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) will now need to beat Northwestern (6-5, 4-4) at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday in Champaign if Bret Bielema’s program wants to reach a bowl game for the second consecutive season.


That might be the ballgame. When the Illinois defense needed to stop Iowa, running back Kaleb Johnson came through again with a 12-yard run on third-and-8 to give the Hawkeyes a first down.

The clock is ticking at Kinnick Stadium, and Illinois can’t stop the clock now because it is out of timeouts.


Illinois is in trouble now, facing a 15-13 deficit with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter and only one timeout remaining after the Hawkeyes forced a turnover on downs. Iowa takes over at the Illinois 33-yard line.

And Illinois has used its final timeout with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter as the Hawkeyes are facing a third-and-8 at the Illini 31-yard line.


A defensive struggle in the second half saw Iowa take a late lead when Kaleb Johnson broke off a 30-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter to take a 15-13 lead.

Illinois had held a slim lead ever since Reggie Love scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:53 left in the second quarter before Johnson broke through an Illini defense that had kept the Hawkeyes in check for nearly the entire game.


John Paddock is starting at quarterback for Illinois at No. 16 Iowa.

Paddock threw for a Memorial Stadium-record 507 yards in last week’s 48-45 overtime victory against Indiana.

But with Luke Altymer cleared to play after getting injured at Minnesota on Nov.  4 and missing the game with the Hoosiers, it was unknown who would start at quarterback for the Illini.

Paddock is the choice after the Mississippi transfer Altmyer started the opening nine games for Illinois prior to his injury.

Altmyer had thrown for 1,883 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go with 282 rushing yards and three scores.

Paddock, a sixth-year quarterback who transferred from Ball State in the offseason, is 39 for 62 passing for 729 yards. He has six touchdown passes and one interception.

* * *

Kaden Feagin is out for today’s game at No. 16 Iowa, with the Illinois freshman running back sustaining an apparent shoulder injury in last Saturday’s 48-45 overtime win against Indiana.

Feagin, a former Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond standout, entered the week as the Illini’s leading rusher with 438 yards on 95 carries to go with two touchdowns. Feagin did not make the trip with Illinois to Iowa City.

Illinois wide receiver Pat Bryant is listed as questionable (ankle). Bryant got injured in last week’s Indiana game.

* * *

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A win today would be consequential for all of reasons for Bret Bielema’s Illinois football program.

For one, it would be the Illini’s sixth of the season and clinch back-to-back bowl trips. You have to go back to the 2010 and 2011 seasons to find the last time Illinois accomplished that feat.

Perhaps even more significant about today’s 2:30 p.m. Big Ten West showdown against No. 16 Iowa (8-2, 5-2) at Kinnick Stadium is a win would keep the Illini (5-5, 3-4) in the running for the division title in the final season of the west division’s existence before the league expands to 18 schools next summer with the additions of Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Washington.

Add in the fact Illinois hasn’t won in Iowa City this century (the Illini won 40-24 at Iowa in 1999), and there’s plenty to play for on Saturday.

The big question, of course, entering the Illinois-Iowa game is who will start at quarterback with sixth-year Ball State transfer John Paddock leading the Illini to consecutive comeback wins at Minnesota and at home last Saturday against Indiana in overtime.

Paddock was pressed into service late in Illinois’ 27-26 win against the Gophers on Nov. 4 in Minneapolis after Luke Altmyer was injured. Paddock engineered a game-winning drive with Isaiah Williams’ 46-yard touchdown reception the go-ahead score.

A week later, Paddock produced a Memorial Stadium-record 507 passing yards, with Paddock and Williams again connecting for the game-winning score — this time in a walk-off 48-45 overtime win against the Hoosiers.

What Bielema does at quarterback remains to be seen.

Follow along with Joe Vozzelli and Joey Wright to see what plays out on Saturday from Kinnick Stadium.

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