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Illini WR Dudek doing all he can

CHAMPAIGN — It’s not entirely great being Mike Dudek. The Illinois freshman receiver — already the program’s top first-year pass catcher ever — is blossoming into quite the star, but it’s impossible to fully enjoy it when his team keeps losing games.

“Football is a team sport,” he said. “Although many may think I did well, at the end of the day we still lost. And that’s not good enough.”

Dudek had another big game Saturday, catching six balls for 80 yards and both Illini touchdowns. The first, a 31-yard fade down the left sideline from Wes Lunt, resulted in a spectacular catch. The former Neuqua Valley all-stater now has 51 receptions for 787 yards and five scores on the season.

“It’s kind of cool after playing in high school just last year,” he said.

Defense tries to hang tough

By one point in the third quarter, Iowa’s offense had seven trips past midfield yet the Hawkeyes had produced only nine points. Their first possession ended in a fourth-down stop at the Illinois goal line. Two more turnovers on downs would follow, as well as a missed field goal on the last play of the first half.

“We made plays. We made some great stops down at the goal line, fourth-down stops,” said linebacker Mason Monheim, who had a game-high 15 tackles. “So definitely we’ll take some positives. But at the end of the day, we lost.”

Piling up the yards

Iowa senior running back Mark Weisman, a burly 240-pounder who played at Stevenson, carried 23 times for a season-high 134 yards against the Illini. In all, the Hawkeyes rushed for 304 yards, the fourth Illini opponent to top the 300 mark. A fifth, Ohio State, rushed for 296.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg