Iowa won only six of 10 bouts, but used bonus points at 133, 157 and 285 to separate themselves from the Illini (6-5, 2-5).
"We can't let guys hang on and let the clock run against us," said head coach Tom Brands. "There was too much clinging and too much stickiness. We can't allow them to slow us down, and too many times tonight that's what we did."
Illinois started fast when Jesse Delgado upset top-ranked Matt McDonough, 9-4, at 125, but the Hawkeyes counterpunched with a fall at 133 from No. 2 Tony Ramos. Ramos and 10th-ranked Daryl Thomas wrestled through a scoreless first period before Ramos scored an escape and takedown in the second period to take a 3-0 lead into the third. Ramos totaled three more takedowns in the final period and was working on nearfall points when he flattened Thomas with: 24 seconds on the clock.
"He came out with a game plan against me and I had to make adjustments," Ramos said following his eighth pin of the season. "I could tell he was beginning to wear down and I didn't want to hesitate. I just opened up."
Mark Ballweg used an escape and 1:55 of riding time to battle to a 2-0 win at 141, edging Iowa's lead to 9-3. Illinois then answered with a 5-0 win at 149 to trim the Hawkeyes' lead to 9-6.
Derek St. John swung the momentum back in Iowa's favor when he piled up nine takedowns and 3:45 of riding time in a 20-8 major decision at 157 pounds.
The Hawkeyes took a 13-6 lead into intermission, but Illinois fired back out of the break when No. 8 Conrad Polz topped No. 13 Nick Moore, 7-3, at 165 pounds. The Illlini's third win cut Iowa's lead to 13-9 before Mike Evans stepped to the plate and scored a 2-1 decision over No. 8 Jordan Blanton. After a scoreless first period, Evans grabbed a 1-0 lead with a second period escape. He then rode Blanton for 1:59 in the third period to secure the riding time point, give Iowa a 16-9 team lead, and earn his third win of the season over a top 10 opponent.
Ethen Lofthouse answered Evans' win with two takedowns, one reversal, a pair of nearfall points and 1:49 of riding time to earn a 9-5 win over No. 20 Tony Dallago. Lofthouse' s third win of the season over a ranked foe extended Iowa's lead to 19-9 with two matches to go.
No. 15 Mario Gonzalez cut the lead to 19-12 with a 3-1 win over Nathan Burak, but his lack of bonus points clinched the dual for Iowa with one match to go.
With the team win in the bag, Bobby Telford tied a bow around the victory with a first-period pin over Chris Lopez at 285. Telford finished an early slide-by and was working on back points when he finished the fall at the 2:32 mark. The pin was his fifth of the season
"We have to be ready to go Sunday," said Brands. "We can't allow the match to slow down. We need to be in control."
The Hawkeyes return to the mat Sunday when No. 13 Nebraska visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 2 p.m. Tickets are availabel for purchase at the UI Athletic Ticket Office. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for youth, and free for kids five-years old and younger.
Notes: Attendance was 1,485... Iowa has won or shared the Big Ten dual title in five of the last six years... McDonough's win streak was snapped at 42 matches, the 11th longest streak in school history... Iowa is 7-0 in conference duals with a chance to improve to 8-0 for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
125 - #5 Jesse Delgado (IL) dec. #1 Matt McDonough (IA), 9-4; 0-3
133 - #2 Tony Ramos (IA) pinned #10 Daryl Thomas (IL), 6:36; 6-3
141 - #8 Mark Ballweg (IA) dec. Steven Rodrigues (IL), 2-0; 9-3
149 - Caleb Ervin (IL) dec. Brody Grothus (IA), 5-0; 9-6
157 - #1 Derek St. John (IA) major dec. Matt Nora (IL), 20-8; 13-6
165 - #8 Conrad Polz (IL) dec. #13 Nick Moore (IA), 7-3; 13-9
174 - #4 Mike Evans (IA) dec. #8 Jordan Blanton (IL), 2-1; 16-9
184 - #14 Ethen Lofthouse (IA) dec. #20 Tony Dallago (IL), 9-5; 19-9
197 - #15 Mario Gonzalez (IL) dec. #19 Nathan Burak (IA), 3-1; 19-12
285 - #6 Bobby Telford (IA) pinned Chris Lopez (IL), 2:32; 25-12