The past two weeks have been quite the roller-coaster ride for the Iowa Hawkeyes, going from a blowout of the Ohio State Buckeyes at home to a tough matchup last week against Wisconsin. The Badgers shut down the Iowa offense from start to finish, so a return to Kinnick Stadium may be just the right recipe for the Hawkeyes to rebound and get back on track for the final couple of games of the season.
Their opponent this week will be the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue got the Jeff Brohm era off to a great start early in the season with plenty of reasons to be excited about where the Boilermakers are heading, but the chance to play in a bowl game has been fading away in the second half with four losses in their last five games including to Rutgers and Nebraska. If Purdue is going to play in a bowl game this season, they must win this week at Iowa and next week at home against Indiana. So the stakes are pretty high for the Boilermakers this week.
Can they pull the upset on the road in Kinnick Stadium, where Iowa is 5-1 this season?
Purdue at Iowa
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Iowa -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Purdue's offense took flight last week, but doing so again this week will not be as easy
The Boilermakers may have come up on the wrong end of the final score last week against Northwestern, but Purdue's offense managed to have its finest game through the air. Purdue's 398 passing yards were a season high and just the second time this season the Boilermakers have thrown for more than 300. But they also did so against one of the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten. Iowa may not be one of the top defenses in that respect, but the Hawkeyes are more imposing than the Wildcats.
2. Don't throw it toward Josh Jackson, Purdue
One of the stars of Iowa's otherwise average pass defense has been Jackson. The junior defensive back has picked off seven passes this season, and he has returned two of those to the house for a score. Don't think he will be a problem? Just ask Ohio State and Wisconsin how much of a problem he may be. Jackson has picked off five passes in the last two games against the Buckeyes and Badgers. Purdue quarterbacks have been picked off 10 times this season.
3. Is this going to be a defensive battle?
For all the talk about some of the top defensive talent Iowa has going for it in this matchup, it is important to also recognize Purdue's defense actually has better numbers this season with fewer points, total yards and rushing yards allowed per game. The Boilermakers' numbers may be better by small margins in those defensive categories, but what has become pretty clear is the improvements on that side of the ball this season are a big reason why the future is looking better for the program. And the offense will come along under Jeff Brohm in time. This week Purdue will look to keep Hawkeyes QB Nathan Stanley (above, right) and RB Akrum Wadley from moving the chains and scoring points.
Don't expect a good amount of offense this week. Points could come at a premium in this matchup. Purdue is heading in a good direction as a program, and there is still a sliver of hope to make a bowl game, but this visit to Kinnick Stadium should bring that notion to an end this season. Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley will be far more efficient than his counterpart, Elijah Sindelar, who completed 37 of 60 passes last week.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Purdue 17
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.