Iowa vs Purdue: What We're Watching For

By RossWB on November 5, 2022 at 2:03 pm
go hawks go
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

WHO: Purdue (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
WHEN: 11:00 AM CT (Saturday, November 5)
WHERE: Ross-Ade Stadium (West Lafayette, IN)
ANNOUNCERS: Eric Collins and Devin Gardner
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network (TuneIn, or local listings) | SiriusXM Ch. 384 (app 974)
MOBILE: Fox Sports app 
TWITTER: @IowaFBLive | @IowaAwesome | @IowaOnBTN
WEATHER: temps in the 50s, few clouds, windy
LINE: Purdue -3.5 (Total: 39.5)

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.)

Two big question marks as Iowa prepares to start the final stretch of the 2022 regular season against Purdue: 

1) How much of Iowa's offensive improvement against Northwestern last week might carry over to this game? 

2) Does Iowa have a plan to slow down Purdue's offense? 

And looming over both of those issues: the weather. 

Rain is also in the forecast for today's game, but wind figures to be the bigger factor. The weather forecast is calling for 20-30 mph winds with gusts of up to 50 mph during the day. Weather like that could certainly make for an, uh, interesting game. Remember the wind tunnel game against Illinois in 2016? Or the blustery Iowa-Indiana game in 2009 when Ricky Stanzi threw five interceptions into the wind but engineered an Iowa comeback when throwing with the wind? Wind games can be wild. 

As far as Iowa's offense goes, Purdue's defense is a test that they'll need to solve. October was a month of extremes in terms of the defenses Iowa faced -- they started off the month with games against defenses currently ranked 1st (Illinois), 3rd (Michigan), and 10th (Ohio State) in scoring defense, but finished it against the 83rd ranked scoring defense (Northwestern). The stats are similar in total defense -- Illinois ranks 1st, Michigan ranks 3rd, and Ohio State ranks 6th, while Northwestern 94th. The quality of defense certainly wasn't the only reason Iowa's offense was so inept through the first three games of October, but it surely played a factor. Purdue's defense, by contrast, isn't close to the same level as Illinois/Michigan/Ohio State -- but it's also much better than Northwestern's defense. Purdue ranks 43rd nationally in total defense and 64th nationally in scoring defense. They've been particularly solid in the red zone, too, ranking 32nd nationally and allowing teams to score on just 78% of their drives (just 65% of those drives have ended in touchdowns). If Iowa is able to move the ball on Purdue -- no guarantee -- they'll need to be able to turn those drives into touchdowns, but that could be easier said than done. 

Spencer Petras had one of the best games of his Iowa career (albeit in a losing effort) against Purdue in 2020, when he went 22/39 for 265 yards (0 TD, 0 INT). He also had one of the worst games of his Iowa career against Purdue in 2021, 17/32 for 195 yards, 0 TD, and 4 INT. Needless to say, Iowa needs Good Petras to turn up for this game, especially since Purdue is 4th in the Big Ten against the run in conference games, allowing 103.4 yards per game (though their 3.8 yards per carry average allowed is only 8th best). 

And what of Iowa's defense against Purdue? In Phil Parker We Trust, but few opponents have stymied Parker's defense quite as much -- or as consistently -- as Jeff Brohm's Purdue offenses have. Iowa is 1-4 against Purdue since Brohm took over, and Iowa's defense has struggled to slow down Purdue in pretty much all of those games. Purdue enters this game with the Big Ten leader in passing yards per game (Aidan O'Connell, 324.3 ypg, though he has just 8 TD against 7 INT in league play) and a running back (Devin Mockobee) who ranks 5th in the Big Ten in yards per game (106.0) in conference games while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. And, of course, they also have the Big Ten leader in receptions (72, 16 more than the receiver with the second-most catches) and receiving yards (840 yards) in Charlie Jones, a player with whom Iowa fans are very familiar. (He also has nine receiving touchdowns this season, second-most in the Big Ten.) In years past, Purdue receivers like Anthony Mahoungou and David Bell have absolutely torched Iowa's secondary and helped lead Purdue to victory. That's exactly what Charlie Jones is hoping to do in this game and odds are good that Brohm will be trying to scheme him into mismatches against the Iowa defense. 

Does Phil Parker have some new wrinkles in place to slow down O'Connell and Jones? Brohm has had great success against Iowa in recent years in finding a weakness in the secondary and then just spamming the hell out of it; does he pick on Cooper DeJean in this game? Sebastian Castro? Someone else? Iowa probably won't duplicate last week's seven sack effort given Purdue's quick-passing scheme and O'Connell's ability to get rid of the ball quickly, but can they force some bad throws and/or hold up in coverage well enough to deny Purdue's receivers? 


SPOOKY SZN is officially over, but here's one more bone-chilling stat for you to consider: Iowa has scored one offensive touchdown in its last three road games. That came via a short touchdown run by Leshon Williams against Rutgers. The offense is going to need to break that touchdown drought to beat Purdue. I do have a little more faith in the offense's ability after last week's performance -- and the fact that they're playing an OK-but-not-great Boilermaker defense -- but I don't yet have that much faith in this offense. It's also too hard to overlook Purdue's recent success in this series, so while I hope I'm wrong... 


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