November 8, 2013

The Breakdown

On Saturday afternoon it's Iowa traveling to "hated" rival Purdue with the Hawkeyes hoping to capture their sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible this season. We have a complete breakdown on the Hawkeyes and the Boilermakers, plus we offer up our predictions and picks to click for Iowa.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

KICKOFF: 11:00 a.m. CT at Ross-Ade Stadium
TICKETS: Plenty of tickets available.
TV: BTN. Kevin Kugler, Glen Mason, and Jon Jansen on the call.
LAST MEETING: Purdue defeated Iowa 27-24 last year at Kinnick Stadium.
WEATHER: Temps in the mid 50's, partly cloudy skies and winds of 15-20 mph are expected.
THE LINE: Iowa is a 15 point favorite.
THE HISTORY: The Boilermakers hold a 46-34-3 advantage in the series. Iowa has won two of the last three and five of the last seven in the series. Iowa won in the last visit to Purdue in 2011, 31-21. Purdue has a 27-14-1 record against Iowa when they host the Hawkeyes.

THE BREAKDOWN

Iowa rushing offense vs. Purdue rush defense

The Hawkeye rushing attack continues their slide in Big Ten play. Last week against Wisconsin the Hawkeyes rushed for 115 yards on 32 carries and the numbers would have been much worse if not for a 43 yard scamper by Jordan Canzeri in the fourth quarter. One of the big question marks this weekend is the health of starting running back Mark Weisman, who left last week's contest with an elbow injury and did not return. He is expected to play, but he's nursing several nagging injuries. Perhaps the ray of hope for the Hawkeye rushing attack is the 58 yards rushing last week by Canzeri. The talented back has been relegated to fourth string, but he could be moving up the charts this week to give the Iowa attack a dose of speed.

The other tonic for the struggling rush offense of the Hawkeyes could be the Purdue defense against the run. Opponents are averaging 211 yards per game against the Boilermakers and in league play the number goes up to 291 yards rushing against them, which is worst in the Big Ten. Having said that, Iowa hasn't been very effective against the 3-4 defense in terms of running the football on a consistent basis and last week Wisconsin's 3-4 defense really bottled up Iowa's stretch play. Still, Iowa's offensive line will be motivated and they are out to prove a point this week. ADVANTAGE: IOWA

Iowa's pass offense vs. Purdue's pass defense

Iowa's pass offense hasn't been very effective in recent weeks and honestly it seems like they are reverting back to some of the problems of last season, throwing short passes that are not beyond the sticks, particularly on third down. Last week the wind probably had something to do with the struggles, and it should be noted that Jake Rudock did leave the game with a sprained knee and that hurt their attack. Rudock is supposed to be back this week, telling us on Tuesday that his knee is fine. The Hawkeyes are averaging 205 yards per game passing the football and 210 in league contests, so the numbers have been very consistent all season long.

If there is one good part of the Purdue defense this season it has been their pass defense. The Boilermakers are 5th in the Big Ten in this category, giving up 218 yards per game. Having said that, teams are getting ahead of the Boilermakers, so they are primarily running the football against them in the second half of games, so the numbers could be a flawed in that regard. Only Illinois and Nebraska have had fewer passes attempted against them in Big Ten play. Probably a fair guess based on the numbers that Iowa throws for between 210-220 yards on Saturday. ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT IOWA

Purdue's rush offense vs. Iowa's run defense

To say that Purdue's rushing offense isn't very good might be being kind. The Boilermakers are averaging just 70 yards per game on the ground. To put that in a national perspective, Purdue is 121st out of 123 D1 schools. Only pass happy Oregon State and Washington State are rushing for few yards this year. In conference play, the Boilermakers are rushing for just 42 yards per game and are averaging 1.6 yards per carry against league opponents. They also have just three rushing touchdowns all season long. Their longest run of the season, 29 yards, was by a wide receiver and their second longest run 22 yards, was by then quarterback Rob Henry, who is now listed as a backup at safety.

Iowa's rush defense has been one of the biggest improvement stories of the season. Sure Wisconsin rushed for 218 yards last weekend, which one of their lowest totals of the season, and 118 of those yards came in the final eight minutes of the game. Iowa is fifth in the conference, giving up 136 yards per game on the ground and they have allowed just four rushing touchdowns all season long. It will be a very big surprise if Purdue is able to run the ball against Iowa given that they haven't done so against other league opponents who are not as good against the run as the Hawkeyes. ADVANTAGE: IOWA

Purdue's pass offense vs. Iowa's pass defense

Freshman quarterback Danny Etling took over the Purdue attack in the 5th game of the season and the Boilers have gone with their youth movement ever since. Etling has completed 47% of his passes for 674 yards in those four games. He is averaging 168 yards per game in the air. Perhaps one of the big fears for Purdue is they have given up 26 sacks this season and 20 of them have been in conference play. Only Northwestern has given up more sacks in conference play and Iowa had six against the Wildcats two weeks ago.

Iowa's pass defense has been, on balance, pretty solid. They still have their usual one or two blown plays, but overall, it's been pretty darn good. Iowa is 2nd in the Big Ten, giving up 186 yards per game. In league play, the Hawkeyes are down to 176 yards per game. The only downside for the Iowa pass defense? 15 touchdown passes given up, and 8 during conference play. Probably one of the more surprising stats of the year is Iowa is 12th in the country in terms of least passing yards allowed. ADVANTAGE: IOWA

SPECIAL TEAMS

If there is one area where the Boilermakers probably hold an advantage it's on special teams, and specifically in the punting game. Purdue's Cody Webster is averaging nearly 45 yards per punt, which is tops in the Big Ten. Their return game is pretty decent too with Akeem Hunt on kickoffs and Frankie Williams on punt returns. Iowa's special teams continue to be spotty. Mike Meyer is having a strong senior year and Connor Kornbrath has been up and down punting. Iowa's kickoff return game hasn't been good, but Kevonte-Martin Manley has been pretty good. ADVANTAGE: PURDUE

LAST CALL

On paper this should be an Iowa win. The Boilermakers have scored one touchdown in the past three games and that was on a 4th quarter 55 yard bomb against Nebraska. One of the most amazing stats I read this week is that Purdue hasn't run a play in the red zone (inside an opponent's 20 yard line) since September 28th. It should be noted that the Boilers had two bye weeks in that stretch and they played Nebraska, Michigan State, and Ohio State in that stretch. Purdue might be Iowa's best chance to get some offensive momentum heading into the final weeks of the season and perhaps more importantly, get their ground game back on track. This is probably a good time to issue the reminder that last year Purdue came to Iowa City on a five game losing streak and won on the final play of the game. This year they are on a six game skid with their only win coming against Indiana State, 20-14. That Indiana State team is 1-8 on the year and lost last week to Missouri State 49-7. Iowa should be bowl eligible after a win over Purdue.

IOWA 31 PURDUE 14

My pick to click this week is a hunch call that Jordan Canzeri gets his shot and makes the most of it. 100 yards and 2 scores.

Here are the picks for the rest of our Hawkeye Report experts:

TORY BRECHT: Iowa 27-13. Pick to click is James Morris.
MIKE ZIERATH: Iowa 31-16. Pick to click is Jordan Canzeri.
JON LAZAR: Iowa 31-17.
RDIETZ: Iowa 27-14. Pick to click Jake Rudock with 2 TD's.
JOHN KERTH: Iowa 16-6. Jake Rudock with 200 yards passing and a TD.
JORDAN GARRETSON: Iowa 31-14. Weisman gets back on track.


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