If there's a team in the Big Ten in serious need of a win this weekend, it just might be Iowa. After two straight losses in cross-division play, the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-2) hop back into the division this week in search of a rebound win. Enter Purdue (2-4, 1-2), a team riddled with injuries and struggling to continue taking steps forward after a year of progress last season.
Iowa has played two straight defensive slugfests against Michigan and Penn State, so facing Purdue should be a bit of relief by comparison. But if the Hawkeyes' offense still can't get anything going, Purdue could hang around to make for a stressful afternoon in Kinnick Stadium. Can Purdue pull it off and drop Iowa to a third consecutive loss, or will the Hawkeyes get their bounce-back win and turn their offense around?
Purdue at Iowa
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa -18
When Purdue Has the Ball
Purdue's offense has been beaten up in recent weeks, and the big question remains: When will star wide receiver Rondale Moore get back on the field? Unfortunately for Purdue, head coach Jeff Brohm doesn't anticipate that it will be this week. Moore's status remains cloudy at best for the next few weeks, which will continue to hamper the Boilermakers.
Jack Plummer remains Purdue's quarterback following the season-ending injury to Elijah Sindelar. After a rough start against Penn State, Plummer fared much better last week against Maryland with 420 passing yards and three touchdowns. But back on the road against a feisty defense like Iowa's with A.J. Epenesa (3.0 sacks) breathing down his neck, Plummer will be put to the test this week.
When Iowa Has the Ball
Against Michigan and Penn State the past two weeks, there hasn't been much going right for the Hawkeyes with the football. Purdue may be just the right defense to get Nate Stanley and company going, though.
Stanley has thrown four interceptions in the past two games, and he has completed fewer than 60 percent of his attempts with just one touchdown. Safe to say, Stanley won't be under quite the same kind of pressure this week, as the Boilermakers lack the ability of Iowa's last two opponents.
Iowa should also get the running game going against the Big Ten's 11th-ranked rushing defense. Purdue has given up close to 200 yards of rushing offense in each of its last two games, and TCU shredded the Boilers for 346 yards earlier this season. After combining for 71 rushing yards in its last two games, Iowa should get Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young rolling early and often.
Iowa's offense is due for a breakout performance, and Purdue may be walking into a tough spot. This is also a must-win for Iowa, which has fallen two games back of Wisconsin in the division. Expect Nate Stanley to be composed and to remind those watching that he is one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten. But it will be the Hawkeyes defense that makes life miserable for Purdue. There won't be too many scoring opportunities for Purdue in this one.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Purdue 6
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Patreon, on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.