Since Boiling With Bias is dedicated to all things Purdue athletics, you might know a good amount about the Purdue football team, but possibly not a lot about their opponent. With that said, Know Thine Enemy is a weekly article written to give you the low down on the Boilermakers’ next opponent.
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It’s Homecoming Weekend at Purdue University and the Purdue Boilermakers will welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes into West Lafayette for both team’s first Big Ten game of the season.
The Hawkeyes are 3-1 on the season with victories over Northern Iowa, Ball State and Pittsburgh, with their lone loss coming in Week 3 against in-state rival Iowa State
Iowa will be looking to have a repeat performance from last season when they smacked around the Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium, 38-14. While the team taking the field for Purdue is still young, they’ve now had time to truly learn the coaches new schemes and Iowa may not have as easy of a time knocking around the Boilermakers this year.
Coming into Saturday’s contest, Iowa is ranked 72nd in the country in passing offense with 916 total yards – 6.64 yards per attempt and 9.74 yards per completion – five touchdowns and average 229.0 yards per game.
Quarterback Jake Rudock has completed 85 of his 127 passes (66.9 percent) for 798 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He is listed as the starter for Saturday’s game, but is also listed as questionable due to an unspecified leg injury that he apparently suffered during last Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh.
Rudock was 12-of-20 for 191 yards and two touchdowns against Purdue last season, but don’t be surprised if Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz pulls the plug early if Rudock underwhelms like he did last week.
Sep 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock (15) passes the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
If Ferentz was to pull Rudock, then his backup C.J. Beathard would get the chance to shine once again. Against Pitt, Beathard went 7-of-8 for 98 yards while setting up the running and kicking game to help lead the Hawkeyes to a narrow victory.
The strength of Iowa’s offense is their running game. Ranked 93rd in the country, their backs have combined for 526 rushing yard – 3.65 yards per carry – six touchdowns and average 131.5 yards per game.
Mark Weisman leads the Hawkeyes in rushing with 184 yards on 54 carries (3.4 yard average) and four touchdowns. He had his best game of the season last week against Pitt when he ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner.
Last year against Purdue, the Hawkeyes rushed for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Weisman carried the ball nine times for 30 yards and a score, while Jordan Canzeri ran for a career-high 165 yards.
Purdue’s defense is so-so this season, but definitely better than last season. Iowa won’t likely have as easy of a day on offense, especially if Purdue takes away the run game and makes the Hawkeyes try to beat them through the air.
Iowa’s defense is way better than their offense. On offense they rank 98th in points scored per game, but ranked 26th in points against per game.
When it comes to passing they are middle of the pack. The Hawkeyes ranked 84th in the country on passing defense, giving up a total of 1,014 passing yards – 7.62 yards per attempt, 13.24 yards per completion – four touchdowns and an average of 253.5 yards per game. They’ve also record three interceptions.
Iowa’s Greg Mabin has been all over the field this season. Through the first four games he’s recorded 21 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Mabin was recruited as a wide receiver and moved over to defense last season, which could explain why he’s been able to disrupt the opponent’s passing game. If Purdue quarterback Danny Etling brings his A game like he’s done the past two games, then the Iowa secondary will have their hands full all day.
Sep 13, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Grant Rohach (12) looks to pass while being defended by Iowa Hawkeyes defensive tackle Carl Davis (71) at Kinnick Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Hawkeyes 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The Hawkeye’s rushing defense is one of the best in the country so far. Ranked 17th, they have allowed 382 rushing yards – 2.96 yards per carry – two touchdowns and give up an average of 95.5 yards per game.
It all starts up front with the defensive line and Drew Ott. Ott has recorded 4.5 tackles for losses along with three sacks and a forced fumble. Against Purdue last season, the Hawkeyes gave up a grand total of 53 yards on the ground and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see them take Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt out of the game completely.
While 3-1, the Hawkeyes haven’t looked strong in any particular game so far this season. They’ve won the ones they were supposed to and pulled a late game stunner against a very good Pittsburgh team. The Boilermakers are starting to come into their own as a young team and should put up a solid fight with Iowa who will be more than ready for whatever Purdue throws at them.