Iowa (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) won its third division title, and its second in three years, earning a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).
Johnson had just four carries for 6 yards before breaking loose down the right side for the go-ahead score. Drew Stevens, though, missed the extra point, giving Illinois (5-6, 3-5) a chance to win the game with a field goal. But John Paddock threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2 from his team’s 33-yard line on the next possession, giving the ball back to the Hawkeyes with 3:44 to play.
Johnson then had a 12-yard run for a first down on Iowa’s ensuing possession, and the Hawkeyes ran out the clock.
Iowa, ranked 130th in the nation in total offense, outgained the Illini 281-280. The Hawkeyes got their other points on a first-quarter safety when Paddock was sacked in the end zone, and on Deacon Hill’s 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Addison Ostrenga in the second quarter.
Paddock, making his second start, was 22-of-47 passing for 215 yards. Wide receiver Isaiah Williams had eight catches for 105 yards.
Hill was 19-of-29 passing for 167 yards.
The Illini, needing a win to become bowl-eligible for the second consecutive season, kept the Hawkeyes from doing much on offense until Johnson’s run. Paddock looked comfortable in a starting role on the road, finding openings in Iowa’s defense with short passes all day.
The Hawkeyes, 16th in the College Football Playoff rankings, could move into the Associated Press poll this week after being at the top of the list of others receiving votes this week. They have figured out ways to win in this current three-game winning streak, and this game was no different.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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