By RossWB on October 16, 2021 at 12:39 pm
go hawks go
© Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

WHO: Purdue Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1 B1G)
WHEN: 2:30 PM CT (Saturday, October 16)
WHERE: Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
TV: ABC (Dave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill)
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network (TuneIn, or local listings) | SiriusXM Ch. 195
TWITTER: @IowaFBLive | @IowaAwesome | @IowaOnBTN
WEATHER: mostly clear, highs in the high 50s/low 60s, 20 mph winds
LINE: Iowa -11.0 (TOTAL: 43.0) 

NOTE: Don't forget to follow all the action during the game and chat with your fellow Iowa fans in the Go Iowa Awesome discord! (More info here.)

Last week the focus of the college football world was on Iowa. #3 Iowa vs #4 Penn State. A nervy game that wasn't decided until late in the fourth quarter. It was a magnificent moment. It was also the halfway point of the season. 

Which is to say: last week was incredible, but there's still a long way to go. The back half of the regular season gets underway today with a visit from Purdue. The Boilermakers don't have the ranking, the record, or the talent that Penn State had last week. But we certainly know better than to overlook them. Purdue has won three of the last four games against Iowa and Jeff Brohm has given Kirk Ferentz no end of difficulty in those games. 

Purdue's success against Iowa hasn't been that hard to figure out, though. They've protected the ball well on offense and attacked Iowa ruthlessly through the air, both by exploiting the natural weaknesses in Iowa's zone (with patient, short, quick passes) and relentlessly targeting weak links in the secondary (often down the field). And having the likes of Rondale Moore and David Bell hasn't hurt matters, either.

On defense, they've done a good job of being aggressive up front and smothering Iowa's run game; in 2017-19, Iowa averaged just 100 yards per game and just 2.8 yards per carry. The running game was better last year -- Iowa had 195 yards and two touchdowns on a healthy 5.4 yards per carry average -- but that might of little comfort this year, given Iowa's struggles running the ball against most teams. Turnovers were especially harmful to Iowa last year, too -- the Hawkeyes lost two fumbles, each in Purdue territory (once inside the Purdue 20-yard line). 

Turnovers have been very good to Iowa this year, of course, and if the turnover gods continue to smile upon Iowa, there will probably be a lot less to worry about in this game. But as good as Iowa's defense has been at forcing turnovers (especially interceptions), it's not a guarantee. Iowa's had ten (!) interceptions in the last two games -- but they had zero in the two prior to that. Brohm is also likely to continue doing what he's done so well against Iowa in the past and create and exploit mismatches for his passing game. With Riley Moss not expected to play, Terry Roberts will get the start today and I'd expect Purdue to attack him early and often in this game. 

So what happens in this game? If Iowa can get out to an early lead and the too-often anemic running game can pick up yards at a steady clip, then I think Iowa will be fine. Iowa's defense shouldn't have much trouble making Purdue's offense one-dimensional and while that one dimension is very capable of hurting Iowa, I think that this secondary will get stops and a turnover or two if they get enough opportunities. But if Iowa struggles to sustain drives and get into the end zone on offense and isn't able to force turnovers (or, worse, Purdue is able to exploit Iowa turnovers), then this game could easily be nervy in the second half and anything could happen. I have enough faith in Iowa's defense -- and in Iowa's offense being able to do just enough -- to believe the former scenario is more likely than the latter. 

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