July 21, 2024

Defending Big Ten champion Iowa at No. 16 if the Hawkeyes defeat Illinois.

or 16 or Iowa, a victory on Saturday will guarantee a berth in the Big Ten title game. A victory on Saturday guarantees a bowl berth for Illinois. However, there is one major question that will probably remain unanswered until Iowa’s Senior Day kickoff on Senior Day: Who will start for Illinois at quarterback?

Will it be senior backup quarterback John Paddock, who led the Illini (5-5, 3-4) to a 48-45 overtime victory over Indiana and threw for a record-setting 507 yards in his first Illinois start? Paddock was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

Or will Luke Altmyer, the team’s regular starter who was cleared to play after missing last week’s game due to a concussion, start? Illinois coach Bret Bielema’s approach isn’t this.to punish a starter for suffering an injury.

“I’ve never been a coach that has ever put a player (out of) a position that they’ve lost by injury,” Bielema said on Monday. From the moment he entered the game at Minnesota two weeks ago to his performance last week, John has undoubtedly played incredibly well. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I believe our guys will have a clear idea of the plan, and we’ll decide as the time approaches. The good news is that we believe both of our players are capable of playing.”

 

Maybe the most important question of all isn’t addressed by the Paddock/Altmyer debate: regardless of who runs the offence, can Illinois score a touchdown against Iowa (8-2, 5-2)?

In the previous four weeks, the Hawkeyes have given up

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