Iowahhh – The Predicto
It’s homecoming weekend at Purdue and as we all know, the best idea for homecoming is to schedule a patsy you can push around. Minnesota used to always seem to be a favorite in the ‘90s, but they’ve been replaced by Purdue’s previously-mandated most hated rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes Who Wish They Were The Steelers.
In a strange twist, Purdue is hosting Iowa in consecutive years, and thanks to the 2012 Purdue win in corn country (more on that later), Purdue hasn’t lost at Iowa since 2008 when Coach Tiller still patrolled (sleepily) the sidelines. Iowa’s next chance comes in 2015. By that point, most college kids and many alums won’t even be able to remember the last time Iowa was able to beat Purdue at Kinnick.
Purdue, of course, has not won a Big Ten game since that November 24, 2012 pounding of IU. As of Saturday, that will be 672 days.
If Purdue doesn’t win one of their first four Big Ten games, that will stretch past 700 days. Mercy.
Last week, I got into it a bit with some dedicated Iowa fans on twitter and there were so many things funny about it, I just have to share. It was a Friday evening and often what I’ll do – if I’m not making sweet love to my wife or in a drunken haze – is comment on the upcoming games that weekend, particularly in the Big Ten. For Iowa, I simply commented that they could possibly lose to Pitt and that if they did, the calls for Ferentz to be canned would grow louder, which would be hilarious. It would be hilarious because, to us, demanding a coach be fired who has had the run of success ol’ Kirk has had at a wasteland like Iowa is utterly silly. Who do the “Fire Kirk” people think they’re going to get to come there? A coach as established and with BCS appearances? I’d like to see that trick.
So anyway, that was the extent of it –that it would be amusing if they kept calling for Kirk to be fired. Well, Iowa fans came out of the woodwork to attack me, which was very weird on a number of levels. First, I was shocked any of them even knew Twitter existed yet. I doubt there are cell phone towers or high speed internet in Iowa, but I suppose you don’t need a cell tower in the state in order to get reception. Given that it’s flatter than my 8th grade girlfriend, you could probably just put up a tower in Chicago or Denver and it’ll suffice. Second, though, was the concept of Iowans trying to act hard. They tried to talk tough, but it was like when you have a “fight” with a 5 year old. Sure, they’re trying really hard, but all I had to do was put my hand on their heads and they couldn’t get me no matter how hard they flailed away. The attacks weren’t even particularly clever or biting. Mostly it was the usual uncreative stuff about how bad Purdue sucks – which…what does that have to do with you idiots being irrational about your coach?
What it did show, though, was how passionate they are about their Hawkeyes. I made more damning comments about Northwestern, for example, and literally didn’t hear one single peep. So kudos, Iowa fans. You’re supportive of your team. You may not have a single professional franchise in your state but, hey, at least you have one that wishes they were the Steelers.
On to the weekend at hand.
Michael RRT Henry sez:
As reticent as we all kind of are to admit it, beating Southern Illinois was a step forward for this program (let that one soak for a second). Forget some of the nit-picky time management / personnel performance questions for a minute; the team handled - quite comfortably - a team that they should handle comfortably. This is a good thing.
Reality hits hard this week though, as Iowa stops by to break the seal on a new season of B1G football. The B1G is something just shy of awful this year (making me almost feel a little bad for all those years I made fun of Big East football) and Purdue projects to finish well into the lower half of the conference. Iowa might be a little harder to pin down. They don't pass the ball much, preferring to run the ball behind a well-respected offensive line, but statistically they aren't that great at running the ball (averaging 3.65 yds/carry; Purdue averages 4.1 yds/carry). Luckily for them, Purdue's front seven struggles to stop the run, allowing opponents to run for 4.22 yds/carry. Keep in mind that only one of Purdue's four opponents thus far has been respectable. Those aren't great numbers, and on paper it looks like an opportunity for Iowa to bump up their average a bit.
On offense, Purdue has to run the ball better than they have recently. Keyante Green had a nice second half last week, and with Mostert fumbling and Hunt's production leveling off a bit, it sounds like he's getting an opportunity to play. Green is not as fast as Hunt or Mostert, but much bigger (he's at least 20 pounds bigger than either of them), which may serve him well if he's forced to run between the tackles against the Hawkeyes. To be honest, I'm not sure how Hazell is going to distribute those touches.
One thing going in Purdue's favor on offense is the fact that Iowa doesn't exactly play an aggressive, attacking style of defense. They prefer to play a shell and force you to sustain longer drives a handful of yards at a time. That is a tough task for Purdue, but in all fairness, Etling has shown the past two weeks the ability to be reliable in the short game and sketchy on the big plays. Dare I say Iowa's defense plays right into Purdue's hands? No, no I don't. But there are some things that Purdue can exploit. If Iowa sags off Purdue's receivers, we may see a variety of screens to try to some of Purdue's great athletes out in space. I wouldn't expect Purdue to break any big plays, but they should be able to move the ball. Can they finish though?
I think Purdue keeps it close, which may be due as much to Iowa's style of play as it would be Purdue's ability. I think the Boilers get a B1G win or two this year, but I don't think it'll be Saturday.
Iowa: 23 Purdue: 13
Aneesh the Swamy sez:
MILESTONE ALERT: With their exciting (…ly average) win over SIU, Purdue has officially doubled the win total from last year! Keg stands for everyone! Even if we don’t win again, this doubling trend will lead us to 32 wins in 2020. Good luck pulling another winning streak on that juggernaut, Notre Dame.
Going in to Big14Ten season, I think it’s important that Boiler nation asks themselves this fundamental question: What’s the goal of this season, for both the fan base and the administration? It’s certainly not a bowl game (get out of here, optimists)…so is it a specific win total, or is it just qualitative improvements? Should we have any expectations at all, or should we consider anything good a “bonus”? How sad is it that these are legitimate questions? Why are we satisfied with just slight improvements over last year, when we were a sub-FCS level team? How long until the administration, not just the coaching staff, starts to feel the heat from alumni and fans? Not to put a damper on last week’s win…but I’m still frustrated by low expectations. One step (brick?) at a time, I guess.
Anyway…let’s talk Iowa. They visited my (new) hometown Pittsburgh Panthers last week, and I went to Heinz Field to scout out Our Most Hated Rival. HAHA yeah that’s a lie, I’m nowhere near that good of a Purdue scout. But I did watch the game, and saw the Hawkeyes made some huge adjustments at halftime that got them out of a ten point hole. That’s pretty much the opposite of our Boilers…who so far have had some great first halves followed by fantastically mediocre 3rd and 4th quarters. Iowa’s defense showed some defensive guts at the end of the game, stopping Pitt’s dangerous offense to seal the win. Iowa also has a fantastic offensive line, which doesn’t really bode well for our subpar pass rush (the SIU game notwithstanding). The Ryans (Russell and Watson) have to bring the heat to get Iowa QB C.J. Beathard (or the injured starter Jake Rudock) on his toes.
Purdue will start Akeem Hunt, as the frequently-fumbling Raheem Mostert has been benched, but the guy to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman and Keyante Green. (By the way…did you know Mostert is a really fast track star? I feel like announcers never talk about that fact!) Green is a stockier traditional running back (unlike the speedy Mostert and Hunt), but was last week’s 75 yards an inflated total against an FCS team down double digits? We’ll find out in this week’s episode of “Minimal Expectations with the Purdue Boilermakers!”
Long story short, I ain’t convinced until we show a positive effort against a legitimate team that poses this many on-paper mismatches. And no, I can’t even make the obligatory “And Iowa isn’t even a legitimate team!” joke, because Purdue. You’re taking my dad jokes away from me, Purdue, and you should feel bad.
Spread: Iowa -9 (opened at -13.5, so the public could lose a chunk of money on our boys)
Iowa 34 Purdue 20
(PS: I want more Corey Clements, because holy hell have you seen his hugeness??)
It's BIG TENTEEN FOOTBALL TIME, folks, which means the rest of the country immediately flips to the SEC Network and only diehard fans in the Great Lakes area (uh, and fourteen other states, apparently) watch smashmouth football that went out of style 10 years ago.
Well, actually most conference teams run some form of spread offense. That's OK, because Iowa seems to be one of those teams that doesn't. The result is a methodical offense that wants to grind out 3.4 yards every play - three yards isn't enough because then Ferentz will order a punt and half of Iowa City will groan in disappointment. (The other half has given up and is eagerly awaiting basketball season.) Of course, the Iowa offense looks like a well-oiled locomotive next to Purdue's dysfunctional system (more than a quarter of Iowa's drives run 10 plays or more; Purdue does that about once every 10 drives).
Unfortunately, Ferentz also likes a regular old zone defense: they sit back and watch as you try to string together short completion after short completion. Iowa has allowed no drives this season that averaged 10 yards per play or more - Football Outsiders calls these explosive drives. Purdue has maybe 1 drive like that this year. Sure, the Hawkeyes are 124th in allowing methodical drives, but those aren't producing many points. Raise your hand if you think Shoop's offense can put together a 10-play scoring drive. (Crickets.)
In a normal season, Hawkeye dissatisfaction with Ferentz would get major air time (the loss to Iowa State thanks to icing a Cyclone missed FG try was classic), but this year, a disappointing 3-1 doesn't even get you in the Hot Seat list in the conference. (If you're wondering who tops the list, you haven't followed Big Tenteen football yet this season.) Of course this would be Homecoming for the Boilers: make Iowa's defense worse and the teams might have a lot in common.
The good news for Purdue fans is that Iowa is definitely not the type of team to run away with this game. The bad news is that Iowa is not the type of team to let Purdue steal one.
Bonus fact: did you know that Purdue beat Iowa 20 straight times, from 1961 through 1980? True story. That seems like a generation ago. Wait, what?
Repeat of 11/18/1933:
Iowa 14 Purdue 6
(You don't know how much I wanted to use 11/4/1939. That was also homecoming, and Purdue lost 4-0.)
Purdue-Iowa is a game that allows for real analysis because you can talk yourself into several believable scenarios. One is that Iowa simply follows the playbook written for them by any team that has beaten down Purdue in recent years and runs the ball all day. Running draw plays might be enough. Purdue has shown very little ability to stop the running game – really, any running game – in….well, years. So if Iowa can do that successfully, hold onto the football and not let Purdue’s offense go wild, they should be able to bore Purdue to death and come away with the win.
However, Iowa is also prone to having those “What the hell just happened here?” games. Losing to Iowa State, for example. Losing to lame duck Danny Hope at home. Iowa sites can point to great games they’ve won against Purdue all they want – that 2012 game still happened, with Robert Marve working the Hawks over on one knee. You know what Iowa should be most ashamed of there? That they lost to a Purdue team wearing the all-white look.
So Iowa has the ability to play like they’re all drunk and new to the game, and while you can’t exactly count on that, it’s nice to know it could happen. Pay close attention to some of the Iowa mouthpieces on twitter beginning to visibly lose their minds if certain weird things happen early. That will be as entertaining as the game itself.
Purdue’s offense has been humming lately – well, at least as compared to last year. But before we all get all excited, yes, that humming was done largely against Western Michigan and Southern Illinois. In both of those wins, as well as both losses, Purdue has suffered precipitous drop-offs in the second half. So hey, there’s something Purdue has done consistently! And that’s all we’ve been asking for, right??
Iowa is a well-coached team and while they often find ways to get themselves into trouble, this season they’ve been (mostly) able to get themselves out. A loss to Purdue would have a lot of Iowans sharpening their pitchforks (never was an expression so believable) and that would make it even more fun for me. Alas, I don’t think it is to be. Purdue has played better this season and has had two good performances (good, not great) in a row. I don’t think they get run out of the building by the Steeler wannabes, but I think it’s not a happy ending for the good guys.
Iowa 24 Purdue 17
When you play a rival, you expect hatred…raw, white-hot hatred. Unfortunately, the only thing I hate about Iowa are the stupid black and yellow striped overalls that many of their fans will be wearing to Ross-Ade. (Have you heard that Iowa travels well?)
In this recently-conjured up rivalry, the good guys haven’t made it much of a rivalry at all. Iowa under Ferentz is an enigma…when you think they’re going to be pretty bad, they find a way to win nine games…and when everyone is counting on them for big things, they kind of poop the bed. BUT, they beat Purdue, whether they’re up or down.
J and I have noticed a trend: teams that can pound the ball, control the clock and play really good smash mouth football whip up on Purdue…especially in the last six years or so.
While Iowa is not Wisconsin, they are an old fashioned team that relies upon field position, clock management and running the ball to have success. Based on what we saw versus CMU a few weeks ago, this isn’t good news for our Boilers. Purdue couldn’t stop a resolute, deliberate Chippewa running game; Iowa is a better running team.
I’m not so sure Iowa is a great, or even good team…but we know that even when the Hawkeyes aren’t great, their linemen, on both sides of the ball, are pretty damned good.
I look for Iowa to win the game in the trenches (and on the scoreboard) unless Yancey plays like we all know he can…
Iowa 24 Purdue 13