Iowa Claims Big Ten West With Win Over Illinois, Punches Ticket To 2023 Big Ten Championship

By Jack Emerson on November 18, 2023 at 8:48 pm
Kirk Ferentz
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes will be the Big Ten West’s final representative in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 2.

The Hawkeyes clinched the division with a 15-13 win over Illinois on Saturday, moving to 6-2 in Big Ten play and 9-2 overall. After its regular season finale against Nebraska next week, Iowa will face either Ohio State or Michigan, pending the result of The Game, in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2. 

Although it was a contentious final season in the Big Ten West, the Hawkeyes claimed the division title for the second time in the last three seasons and did so with a week to spare. In its last trip to the Big Ten Championship in 2021, the Hawkeyes were demolished by Michigan 42-3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

The Hawkeyes endured some hardship en route to the divisional crown, with injuries to several key players including quarterback Cade McNamara, tight ends Luke Lachey and Erick All and cornerback Cooper DeJean. Iowa also struggled immensely on offense, yet again, in 2023, as the Hawkeyes averaged just 18.8 points per game, the second-worst mark in the Big Ten, prompting the impending dismissal of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz at season’s end. 

Despite injury and offensive issues, the Hawkeyes excelled thanks to their suffocating defensive unit. The Hawkeyes allow 12.3 points per game through 11 games this season, the third-lowest average in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Ohio State, while giving up 281.5 yards per game — the eighth-best mark in the country. 

As the Big Ten plans to eliminate divisions in 2024, coinciding with the impending additions of UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington, Iowa is the Big Ten West’s final champion. 

The Big Ten East champion, and Iowa’s opponent in the Big Ten Conference Championship, will be decided in The Game on Saturday. The clash between Ohio State and Michigan will kick off at noon at Michigan Stadium and will be televised on FOX.

View 31 Comments