Iowa 28, Illinois 0: NO KICKOFFS

By Adam Jacobi on November 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Nice fans, Illinois. Where'd you get them, the... ghost store?
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports


On a cold and windy afternoon in Champaign, a kicking tee sat alone on a sideline, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Sometimes it's out there doing its job on the game's very first play. A little orange tee, orange like the Illini, ready to hold up its football, and its end of the bargain.

That opportunity never came Saturday.

Thanks to a bizarre coin-flip decision and masterful defense, Illinois never kicked off, not even once, in Iowa's 28-0 victory in Champaign. LeShun Daniels went full hammerback and exploded for a season-high 159 yards with two touchdowns, and Akrum Wadley contributed 82 yards and another score.

Here's what happened: with gusting winds on Saturday afternoon, Kirk Ferentz instructed his players to select which end zone to play towards at the coin flip. Illinois won the coin toss, though, and deferred its choice to the second half (where the Illini would obviously receive). Iowa still opted to play towards the end zone with the wind—though, in a second blunder, got the wind for the first and third quarters, and not the crucial ends of each half. With that, Illinois was free to accept the opportunity to receive in the first half as well.

Even with the extra possession, Illinois' offense was held completely in check by the Iowa defense. Here's how each drive ended for the Illini:

  1. Punt
  2. Punt
  3. Punt
  4. Punt
  5. Punt
  6. Punt
  7. Punt
  8. Punt
  9. Punt
  10. Punt
  11. Interception
  12. Turnover on downs
  13. None [fumbled kickoff return]
  14. Turnover on downs

So, at least they mixed things up a bit at the end.

The punts were so bountiful in the early minutes that Iowa and Illinois combined to punt on their first seven possessions of the game, a streak only broken up by a C.J. Beathard interception off Riley McCarron's deflection. 

All told, the Illini managed just 198 yards and 10 first downs on the day, and never came closer than Iowa's 34-yard line (at which point Wes Lunt was promptly sacked). Lunt's performance on Senior Day was not great, Bob: 19-for-41 passing for 137 yards and one pick. That's an anemic 3.3 yards per pass; even C.J. Beathard managed 4.7 today, which we assure you is not what you want.

Iowa's rushing game was great today. Iowa's defense was great today. We'll look past the rest, because hey, 28-0. That's Iowa's first shutout since beating Ball State 45-0 in 2010, its first Big Ten shutout since beating Minnesota 12-0 in 2009, and its first Big Ten road shutout since beating Minnesota 55-0 in 2008. That was fun.

So, speaking of fun, our question is this: has there EVER been a game in the modern era of college football where one team just never kicked off? We're even willing to look through D-III, NAIA, whatever they call it in Canada. Seriously: this could be the first #NOKICKOFFS game on record.

We witnessed history, people. Let's enjoy it. NO KICKOFFS AWESOME. GO IOWA AWESOME.

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