Offensive coordinator, Gary Nord will not make the trip due to a back injury.
For those uninitiated, the Big Ten guaranteed certain rivalries across the two divisions and for the Boilers and Hawkeyes, it is each other.
And why not? Such a storied rivalry should not fall victim to divisional realignment that takes these two titans of the gridiron away from one another. So, THANK GOD, we are forever (or at least until they decide to change things again) linked with Our Most Hated Rival (OMHR), the Iowa Stinkeyes. (In your face!)
Iowa is really not good, either, this season and that lack of goodness has translated into Purdue fans along the way somehow holding out hope that Purdue could put this one in the win column. Will that happen? Glad you asked.
Let's start with spirit. Sure, Iowa may fill their stadium up and actually coordinate their attire in a way that looks pretty cool, but true school spirit can be evaluated by how willing people are to run onto the field carrying flags representing their school. Everyone knows this. So let us compare. First, Iowa:
I count four goobers in their urine-colored pajamas and one guy who was always picked last at kickball struggling to keep up.
Clearly, Purdue's flag-bearer is leading the pack here, demonstrating superior athletic ability, and there are six flag-bearers following him. When you compare, you will see seven Boilermakers, which we all know is far better than five Hawkeyes. Well, we would assume so, but we don't know what the hell a Hawkeye is.
It's all so simple when you break it down scientifically.
As for the actual game, if you think this Purdue team is going to go get their first win in their last 13 tries at Kinnick, well, you must be literally among the most optimistic fans Purdue has ever had. However, that said, there actually are a few wide-eyed (drunk) dreamers who continue to point out that Purdue can "win out" and still go to a shitty bowl. Which, frankly, while I'll never root for my Boilers to lose, might be the absolute worst thing that could happen as it could keep the current coaching regime in West Lafayette.
Iowa may be "bad" in their fans' estimation, but they did beat Michigan State in East Lansing. I know they lost to IU, but I suspect by the end of the season that's not going to look like a horrible loss, especially considering it came on the road. With a win against Purdue, the Hawks would be 5-5 (3-3), which is the kind of "bad" season I would gladly take. They'll be motivated to play, as Purdue is now the team that everybody looks at as what will cure whatever ails them.
The Boilers, if I need to analyze them, are a mess in every way. As with any week under Danny Hope, it's possible that these guys will come out and play with heart and will themselves to a solid performance. It's also possible that the imminent departure of their coach could spur them on to an unexpected victory against a vulnerable foe. But I don't expect it to happen.
Purdue is 0-3 on the road this year and has been outscored 78-37 the past two weeks, against one good team and one pretty marginal one. Iowa is somewhere in the middle.
Purdue keeps beating itself...so does Iowa. Purdue can (sometimes) run the ball when it really, really wants to, same for the Hawkeyes. Purdue has a guy that can really sling the ball around the field...but his offensive line's simply-offensive play, along with crappy playcalling has made him look inept at times...same goes for Iowa.
These two teams are not good. While Purdue has struggled getting the car into drive for much of the season, Iowa's car stalls out when it's needed most; in the red zone. The end result has been a ton of field goals. But unlike Purdue's field goal unit, Iowa usually leaves the field with three points, while Purdue leaves the field, often, after tackling the guy on the other team who has just picked up the blocked attempt.
Another big difference between Purdue and OMHR is Iowa typically competes as they're losing...or at least makes it interesting at some point...but their schedule is amazingly-soft for a B1G team this far into the season...and the results don't really show that they were playing bad competition.
They were beaten by a MAC team, nearly beaten by another, played even football for a half versus a D-1AA team before kinda pulling ahead in the second half...and recently, allowed IU to get its second-straight win in conference (I wonder what winning in conference feels like...).
Purdue's lousy kick coverage will surely come into play, if they can manage to score...so as a way to keep that unit out of harm's way, Hope/Nord have devised a plan that Purdue pretty much never scores, when the game is still up for grabs, EXCEPT on the first drive. Brilliant; play to your strength.
I think Purdue will start with a 7 point lead...but I don't see the losing streak at Kinnick ending tomorrow.
Iowa 25 (one TD, six FGs)
Purdue 10 (one TD, one FG)
Get your popcorn!
You thought I meant Purdue? Well, coming into the season, sure, the two teams had some similarities, although Iowa's injuries came at running back instead of quarterback (and their leading rusher is likely to miss Saturday's game as well). And with the Hawkeyes' unexpected stumbles against Iowa State and Central Michigan, plus a schedule that has them finishing against the two teams in contention for the West Division title, a loss to Purdue would probably finish Ferentz's career at Iowa. (A win might not be enough, either - expectations are high enough in Iowa City that even 7-6 might not be acceptable.)
To be honest, it's probably a must-win game for Purdue as well, if we take Morgan Burke's recent comments at face value. "Converting potential into results" means winning games, and it's possible that winning four straight games would preserve Hope's job for another season - that would give him another 7-6 record with a bowl win and a Bucket win. Anything less won't be good enough ... well, we all knew that, but the question was whether or not Burke would acknowledge it, and it's possible that a losing record would move him to make a change.
The game itself should be winnable: Iowa's offense is bad, particularly its passing game, so they're not exactly the type of team to jump on the Boilers in the second half ... but then every embarrassing loss in Big Ten play has been to a team with obvious and significant flaws, and somehow Hope and his staff managed to make Purdue the cure for what was ailing those other teams. I'm afraid we'll see the same thing on Saturday.
Kirk Ferentz's Job 27
Danny Hope's Job 13