Progress?

Three fumbles, two of which led directly to Iowa touchdowns. Ten penalties, all in the second half (!!), including personal fouls on what would have been 4th and 16 and 3rd and 6 for Iowa. The usual array of questionable coaching decisions, including an inexplicable timeout on Iowa's final drive that nearly gave the Hawkeyes a chance to win (but ironically ended up saving time for the Boilers' winning FG).

And yet the rest of the game was a solid Purdue effort, aided in no small part by a punchless Iowa team that no doubt has its fanbase scouring the internet for desirable coaching candidates. (You know, that Corso guy on TV sounds really smart. Note: see comments below - even if Iowa fans want a new coach, Ferentz isn't going anywhere.) A strong performance by a Purdue quarterback ... was it a coincidence that Gary Nord was nowhere to be seen? The defense holding Iowa to 10 points outside the turnovers and preventing a score on that final drive. Special teams almost looking respectable, with the winning 46-yard kick making up for the 20-yard miss at the end of the first half. A gutsy call on fourth-and-one in Purdue territory that paid off.

This game, to me, is what makes Hope such a frustrating coach. For the first time during the Big Ten season, we saw both the talent we know Purdue has and the results we should be expecting from that talent ... but mistake after mistake by the Boilers let a lackluster team with an ineffective QB hang around for the entire game, and only a no-win situation for Ferentz gave Purdue the chance to steal victory from the jaws of Hope at the end.

1:08 on the clock, Iowa pinned deep thanks to yet another Cody Webster cannon, and with just two timeouts left, not much of a chance to get in scoring position ... but Hope promptly hands the Hawkeyes a chance by calling one after the first-down stop, no doubt expecting three straight stops that would give Purdue the ball with no timeouts, probably 25-35 seconds left, and 40+ yards to go for even a long field goal attempt. A better call is to let the clock run; maybe you don't get a final chance in regulation yourselves, but you don't risk the opponents converting and taking advantage of the time you left for them, which is exactly what Iowa did.

Ferentz also chose the aggressive option, going for it at the 35, knowing that a first down would give the Hawkeyes a couple of shots to set up the game-winning field goal with the timeout they had remaining. But they failed, and Purdue promptly drove 37 yards in 16 seconds to give Griggs the chance to win it.

It's rarely easy to win on the road in the Big Ten. There are only two places I don't think are particularly challenging for visitors, Evanston and Bloomington, and of course the latter means the Bucket, so it's always a big game there, and Pat Fitzgerald has a pretty good team every year at Northwestern ... so a conference road win is something to acknowledge. But where was this effort against Minnesota? Will it be present in Champaign next week? How is it that a team that can take undefeated Notre Dame and undefeated Ohio State to the final minutes on the road can't get out of their own way against bottom-of-the-pack teams? (Minnesota's improving, but not there yet, and Iowa's seemingly on the way down.)

The hallmark of Tiller's best teams was beating Purdue's peers, the teams not in the top tier but wishing they could get there. Tiller was 6-2 against Illinois, 10-2 against Indiana, 8-2 against Minnesota, 9-3 against Northwestern. Hope is 7-5 against that same group. Struggling against Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State was acceptable as long as it was part of 8- and 9-win seasons with bowl appearances; when it's accompanied by struggles against the other guys, then it basically makes us Indiana. (Except, of course, Wilson has Indiana improving rapidly, notwithstanding the Wisconsin rout.) And not the Bill Mallory-era Hoosiers, but the DiNardo Hoosiers.

Hope has two games left against those peers. I hope.

Purdue vs Hofstra: Boilers Dismantle the Pride

Boilers Earn One in Iowa, 27-24

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