Iowa (5-4) at Purdue (1-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500) -- West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Iowa 3-3, Purdue 1-4. Away Record: Iowa 2-1, Purdue 0-3. Neutral Record: Iowa 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Iowa 2-3, Purdue 0-4. Series: Purdue leads, 46-34-3.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa Hawkeyes will try to become bowl eligible on Saturday afternoon when they visit Ross-Ade Stadium for a Big Ten Conference clash with the Purdue Boilermakers.
Iowa is looking to become bowl eligible for the 12th time in 13 seasons after coming up short against Wisconsin last week, 28-9. The loss was the third in the last four games for the Hawkeyes, although they have hung tough with some pretty good teams. Their four losses on the year are to teams with a combined record of 32-3, and all four of those opponents are currently in the BCS top 25.
It has been a trying season for Purdue under first-year coach Darrell Hazell, and the team suffered its second straight shutout for the first time since 1953 as it fell to Ohio State on Saturday, 56-0. The Boilermakers have lost six in a row and have yet to beat a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent this season.
Purdue beat Iowa nearly a year ago to the date on Paul Griggs' 46-yard field goal as time expired. It was the Boilermakers' first win in Iowa City since 1992.
Iowa's offense was out of sync against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes made four trips inside the red zone but had to settle for three field goals, and that turned out to be a key difference in the outcome. Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard shared time under center and combined to complete only 16-of-40 passes for 179 yards. Each quarterback was intercepted, and those picks led to 14 points for Wisconsin.
Rudock has taken the majority of snaps this season, with varied success. He is completing 59.8 percent of his passes while averaging 191.7 yards per game, and he has thrown 12 touchdowns against nine interceptions, with seven of those 12 scores going for 20-plus yards. Rudock has also notched five rushing TDs. Running back Mark Weisman is averaging 83 ypg on the ground and has gone over the century mark four times this season.
Three different Hawkeyes registered double-digit tackles against Wisconsin. Linebacker James Morris led the way with 12 tackles, including three for loss and a sack. Christian Kirksey and safety John Lowdermilk each posted 11 stops. Tanner Miller had his second interception of the season, but Iowa allowed Badgers quarterback Joel Stave to throw a pair of touchdown passes, and running back James White ran for 132 yards and two more TDs. Prior to that, the Hawkeyes had allowed only two rushing scores all season long, as they have held eight of nine opponents below their rushing average. Wisconsin scored touchdowns on all three of its trips inside the 20 to raise Iowa's total to eight red-zone TDs allowed this season, which is still tied for third-lowest in the nation.
To say that Purdue's offense has fallen on hard times would not be doing justice to the phrase, hard times. After all, the Boilermakers' only points in their past three games came on a last-minute touchdown pass in a 44-7 loss to Nebraska nearly a month ago, on Oct. 12. They followed that up with a 14-0 loss at Michigan State and last weekend's 56-0 loss to the Buckeyes. In the latest shutout loss, Ohio State's Doran Grant intercepted Danny Etling's first pass of the day and returned it 33 yards the other way for a touchdown less than a minute into the game. Etling went on to complete just 13-of-29 passes for 89 yards while taking six sacks. He has been sacked 19 times in the last four games, as the offense has not taken a snap in the red zone since late in a Sept. 28 loss to Northern Illinois. The Boilermakers rank 11th in the Big Ten in passing offense (188.2), and their seven red-zone touchdowns are the lowest total in the conference.
Defensively, Purdue has allowed 429.6 yards per game (87th) and ranks 111th nationally in scoring defense (37.1 ppg). The Buckeyes simply had their way last week, as they torched the Boilermakers for 30 first downs and 640 yards of total offense. Granted, making stops is more difficult when the offense regularly goes three-and-out, as OSU held a nearly 10-minute edge in time of possession. Still, the Boilermakers were dreadful on third down, allowing the Buckeyes to convert 8-of-12 such opportunities. In addition, they gave up touchdowns on all six of OSU's trips inside the red zone. The Buckeyes gashed Purdue for a team average of 8.4 yards per carry on the ground, while they also scored five times through the air. Certainly, there is plenty of blame to go around the Boilermakers locker room these days.
Purdue's first season under coach Hazell has been tough, to say the least. While Iowa no doubt has its own issues to rectify, the Boilermakers' ineptitude on both sides of the ball has been remarkable.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa 38, Purdue 7
11/06 10:45:10 ET