The Purdue Boilermakers travel to Iowa City to take on a traditional conference rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten West divisional matchup on Saturday. Purdue (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is coming off a bye week, and head coach Jeff Brohm recognizes the challenge the Boilermakers will face as they prepare to play the No. 2-ranked team in the nation.
"Iowa is playing at a high level." Brohm said at his Oct. 11 press conference. "Defense has been off the charts, getting turnovers, getting stops, getting interceptions. Done a tremendous job with that. Offensively they control the football, run the ball, really good running back, offensive line, play-action off of it, and right now they're playing with a lot of confidence. ... It'll be a great test for our team, and hopefully we have a good week of practice and we try to raise our level of play and go up there and compete and try to come out there on a good note."
Iowa (6-0, 3-0) could not be riding much higher, following a dramatic 23-20 come-from-behind home victory over previously unbeaten Penn State. The Hawkeyes have won 12 straight games and would equal another streak under head coach Kirk Ferentz of 13 straight with a win on Saturday.
Ferentz paid homage to the fans who stormed the field following the comeback win over Penn State. Said Ferentz of Kinnick Stadium, "It's a pretty special place when the lights go on and the sun goes down."
Despite Iowa's lofty ranking, the Hawkeyes need to be on full upset alert. Purdue has won three of the last four meetings between the divisional rivals, although Iowa won the last time they played in Kinnick, 26-20 in 2019.
Purdue at No. 2 Iowa
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 16 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa -11.5
When Purdue Has The Ball
Purdue has been successful offensively when throwing the ball. Quarterbacks Jack Plummer and Aidan O'Connell have both played throughout this season, combining for 11 touchdown passes, versus five interceptions. The top wide receiver on Purdue's roster is standout David Bell, who has 27 receptions and three touchdowns. Bell averages 16 yards per reception and will be sure to command the attention of Iowa's secondary.
Purdue has not been able to effectively establish a consistent running game this season. King Doerue is the Boilermakers' leading rusher with 221 yards and a touchdown. Doerue had a solid game versus Minnesota on Oct. 2 with 21 carries for 95 yards. If Iowa can make Purdue a truly one-dimensional team offensively by clamping down on the Boilermakers' running game, it could make for a long day for Purdue, as Iowa has feasted upon creating turnovers, with the Hawkeyes collecting 16 interceptions this season, which is four more than any other FBS team. Iowa will be without standout cornerback Riley Moss. The Big Ten leader with four interceptions, Moss suffered a knee injury last Saturday. Although it's not believed to be a season-ending injury, Moss will at least miss the game against Purdue.
When Iowa Has The Ball
Iowa's offensive philosophy seems to be one of low risk, positive reward. Quarterback Spencer Petras has thrown nine touchdown passes to two interceptions, averaging 6.8 yards per pass attempt. Iowa's leading receiver is tight end Sam LaPorta, who has 23 receptions and two touchdowns this season.
The Iowa offense revolves around running back Tyler Goodson. Goodson has rushed for 518 yards and five touchdowns while also contributing as a reliable receiver out of the backfield for Petras, with 14 receptions and one touchdown through the air. Goodson will be the main priority of the Purdue defense.
Considering Iowa's offense is slowly but surely methodical, Purdue will need to try to be as disruptive as possible. Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis is among the team's leaders in sacks with 1.5 and will need to fight through what could be an Iowa offensive line strategy of double-team blocks.
Purdue is better rested, while Iowa is coming off the taxing contest against Penn State. The Boilermakers' lack of a consistent running game is going to be the difference in this one, though, as Iowa will look to continue its streak of interceptions against a Boilermaker team that is heavily reliant upon the pass. They may not be flashy, but the Hawkeyes will move to 7-0 as they head into their bye week.
Prediction: Iowa 28, Purdue 17
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— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for Buckeye Scoop. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.