Saturday's matchup, prediction: Illinois at Iowa

TV/radio: 11 a.m. Saturday, BTN, WSCR-AM 670.

Line: Iowa by 17.

Records: Illinois 2-2, 0-1 Big Ten; Iowa 3-2, 0-2.

Last meeting: The Illini were held to 198 total yards and punted 10 times in a 28-0 loss in the season finale on Nov. 19, 2016, at Memorial Stadium. Iowa's Leshun Daniels Jr. rushed for 159 yards and two second-half touchdowns.

Keys to the game

Will Jeff George Jr. be the answer? Some Illini fans would argue this change came a week late, but Lovie Smith has replaced QB Chayce Crouch with George, who provided a spark in the second half at South Florida with 211 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-22 passing. But he also threw two picks and was shaky last season when filling in for injured starters. Illinois needed a change after Crouch produced only 99 passing yards in last week's loss to Nebraska.

Can the Illinois defense keep Iowa's running game in check? The Hawkeyes typically have a strong running game but haven't mustered much on the ground, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, tied for 12th in the Big Ten. Take into account, though, that they faced strong defenses against Penn State and Michigan State. Illinois' run defense is last in the conference, giving up 179.5 yards per game.

When will the road smooth out for the Illini? Illinois' last road victory was Oct. 15, 2016, at Rutgers, and since 2008, the Illini are 8-37 on the road with only one season with more than one road win.

Shannon Ryan's pick: Illinois' road struggles will continue for at least another week. Iowa 32, Illinois 13.

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