The Big Ten is back, and so is one of the most entertaining players in the conference. The Purdue Boilermakers' top wide receiver Rondale Moore returns after his promising 2019 season got cut short due to injury and he initially decided to opt out of the 2020 season. After opting back in, Moore and Purdue jump right into a key division battle with the Iowa Hawkeyes, which have hopes of making a run to a Big Ten West Division title this abbreviated season.
Iowa at Purdue
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Iowa -3.5
When Iowa Has the Ball
The Hawkeyes aren't likely to dazzle you with flashy highlight plays. Instead, they'll play some stereotypical Big Ten football with a nice advantage on the offensive line paving the way for a running game with Tyler Goodson capable of breaking loose for some big gains. Expect plenty of work on the ground for Iowa because Purdue's rushing defense last year was extremely soft. The Boilermakers gave up 192.5 rushing yards per game. Even if Purdue is improved against the run, it won't be able to clamp down enough on a physical Iowa running game. The addition of UConn transfer Tyler Coyle should help Purdue in the secondary though.
When Purdue Has the Ball
Welcome back, Rondale Moore. Purdue's most electric offensive talent decided to opt back in for the 2020 season, and that has the potential to change the whole dynamic of the Purdue offense. Moore is a player who can make a big play at any given moment, and head coach Jeff Brohm will be wise to find new and creative ways to get him the football in both the passing and running game. Moore will have one new quarterback throwing to him this season, but who ends up being the main guy may be up for grabs early on this season with UCLA transfer Austin Burton competing against Jack Plummer and Aidan O'Connell, who combined to throw more than three-quarters of the team's passes in 2019.
If this season has been any indication so far, expect some choppiness in both Iowa and Purdue as they hit the field for the first time against live competition following a bizarre offseason schedule. This would seem to favor a team capable of making some big plays happen, which may seem like good news for Purdue with a healthy Rondale Moore. But we'll stick to the basics here and rely on the steadiness of the Iowa offensive line. Iowa will keep things pretty vanilla and overpower their way to a victory on the line of scrimmage.
Prediction: Iowa 26, Purdue 23
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