Kirk Ferentz has been running the Iowa program for 19 years. Jeff Brohm just cracked it in 1.
It was Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium, but the Hawkeyes played like underclassmen — timid, tentative and overwhelmed. And thus it was Purdue making clutch plays, controlling the flow of the game and ultimately prevailing, 24-15. Iowa falls to 6-5 (3-5) with a trip to Nebraska finishing off the regular season.
Nate Stanley's stats were at least better than last week, if not objectively good — he went 16-for-33 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception — but once you factor in the opponents, you could argue he played just as poorly as up in Madison. Yes, the receivers dropped plenty of passes (again), but Stanley was tentative in the pocket, leading to six sacks, and he was uncharacteristically off-target on numerous throws.
On one play in particular, Stanley dropped back on a play-fake, got a great pocket from his line (this was not always the case), scanned the field for a few seconds... then threw an outlet pass about five feet over James Butler's head. Thanks to BTN, we don't have any idea how good Purdue's defense was on the play, but even assuming it was good, at some point you've got to take shots — we know he's capable of delivering on them, and he did just that on multiple occasions today, including late in the 4th quarter and on a 4th-down pass to Matt VandeBerg where the window for success was about the size of a dinner plate. But when Stanley had time to think (and worry), he was just brutal.
Speaking of brutal, Iowa took a 9-7 lead into the half and likely would have been in decent position to win the game had it not been for what Purdue WR Anthony Mahoungou did to Iowa's cornerbacks who were not named Josh Jackson. Here is a real, unedited list of the Boilermakers' first seven snaps of the third quarter:
- 11-yard pass to Mahoungou
- Pass interference by Manny Rugamba covering Mahoungou
- 14-yard pass to Mahoungou
- 42-yard pass to Mahoungou, TOUCHDOWN
- [3-and-out by Iowa, obviously]
- 35-yard pass to Mahoungou
- 1-yard loss by D.J. Knox
- 16-yard pass to Mahoungou, TOUCHDOWN
That quickly flipped the game to a 12-point Purdue lead, and with Iowa's offense self-destructing like a washing machine with a brick in it, the Hawkeyes never recovered.
Maybe Purdue was, well, Pur-due for a win like this. The Boilers gave Louisville all they could handle to open the year, lost most of their games close (they even led in the 3rd quarter at Michigan despite losing by 18) and Jeff Brohm is just smart enough to know how to show Iowa things it wasn't expecting. The recipe was there, and that young, hungry team knew how to follow it.
Still, this game represented the worst of Kirk Ferentz's tendencies, and they all came to play — the fruitless audibles to the short side, the runs following incomplete passes, and the ability to be scared out of putting players in their best position to succeed. Combine that with special teams that now actively hamper Iowa's efforts, and it sure seems like Iowa's back in the spot where winning games is more difficult than it needs to be.
Purdue punts from its own 8. Gets it back at own 39.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) November 18, 2017
One last thing — for most of us fans, a game like this sucks. It's tough to watch and frustrating to be emotionally invested in a team that plays like that. That is 100% the case today and believe us, we get it.
That said, please remember that there are players that read this page, and plenty more of their family members as well. For all of them, it's even more frustrating, as it's way more a part of their lives than it is yours or mine. So we just ask that you keep their presence in mind in the comments (tonight and all the time) as you vent your frustrations.