Classic Illini Football: 1983 Illinois defeats #4 Iowa 33-0
When the Illini play Toledo to open the season, they will honor the 1983 Big Ten Champion Illini. One of the classic Illini football games that was a key to that season was its 33-0 blowout of Iowa.
Sometimes the only people that need to believe are the coaches and the players in the locker room. It’s hard to imagine anyone outside of Champaign thought the Illini were contenders in 1983, let alone go undefeated in the Big Ten. 1983 was the first season the Big Ten played a nine-game schedule in a round-robin style schedule. Everyone played everyone. The conference kept this format until Penn State joined the conference in 1992.
Only one team went undefeated during that time, playing every team in the conference, the 1983 Illinois Fighting Illini. Coming into the season, the usual suspects were the favorites to win the conference, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa. The Illini had a solid ’82 campaign, finishing 7-5 and going to the Liberty Bowl.
However, Tony Eason was off to the NFL, and Jack Trudeau was an unknown commodity. The beginning of the season did not start like one would expect a conference winner to start. Illinois lost its season opener against Missouri. After a win against Stanford, their conference schedule included a run of three ranked teams in a month.
Illinois routes #4 Iowa.
Illinois stunned #4 Iowa 33-0 in this classic Illini football game. The Hawkeyes came to Champaign with star quarterback Chuck Foreman and a formidable defense. The Illini, however, controlled this game from start to finish. What made this game so important was how dominant the Illini were.
Defensively, the Illini smothered Iowa’s offense. The Hawkeyes ran for just 15 yards on 34 carries. Foreman finished the game with 280 passing yards but completed only 46 percent of his passes. He also threw two interceptions.
The offense was outstanding for the Illini. For some perspective, Iowa allowed 15.8 points per game in 1983. Illinois scored 33 points. Jack Trudeau established himself as a more than capable replacement for Eason. Trudeau bested Foreman on the day, going 22-32 for 286 yards and three touchdown passes.
The blowout win garnered the Illini its first national season ranking at #19.
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