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But the sad truth is that the Iowa-Illinois rivalry really is essentially defunct right now.There are three ways that a rivalry has life: if proximity keeps the fires burning (which is what kept the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry going during the 15-year span when Iowa beat Iowa State's brains in), if the games are frequently meaningful, and/or if the games are at least dramatic and exciting.
In years where both teams played each other the closest they came to both finishing with winning records was 2008, when Iowa finished 9-4 while Illinois collapsed into a 5-7 mess.
That was also one of only two exciting/dramatic games the teams played in the 00s (the other being Iowa's 10-7 upset win over a ranked Illini team in 2007).
There was an outcry when Wisconsin was dropped from Iowa's schedule and the Big Ten made a point to make sure they were back on the Iowa schedule as of 2013.
There was no such outcry for the news about Illinois sliding off the schedule -- and off the schedule for so long.
The other games in the series in the 00s are only memorable for odd details like former Iowa quarterback Jon Beutjer leaving Iowa for the Illini (and facilitating Brad Banks' rise to prominence), Iowa running backs going down one after another in Champaign in 2004, or Jason Reda missing three field goals in the first half in 2005 (though, to be fair, two of them were blocked rather than flat-out missed).
Until the 07-08 nail-biters, the teams traded blowouts.2: QB has 22 touchdown passes, second in the Big Ten and tied for 14th in the nation.He is the first Hawkeye to throw 20-plus touchdowns in a season since James Vandenberg threw 25 touchdowns in 2011.Iowa rode the momentum of that win (and a few friendly tiebreakers) to the third (and final) Rose Bowl appearance of Hayden Fry's tenure; Illinois stumbled to an appearance in the Hall of Fame Bowl.There are also some good memories of the 59-0 annihilation Chuck Long & Co.Illinois-Iowa has proximity going for it, but that's about it -- and proximity alone isn't enough when Iowa maintains (or will soon be renewing) rivalries with three other border-state schools (four if you count j NW) and an in-state foil.