On Saturday there will be punting in Ross-Ade Stadium. There will be A LOT of punting. Cody Webster and Connor Kornbrath will be your MVPs on Saturday. The pairing of MOST HATED RIVALS features, statistically the two worst offenses in the Big Ten. Here are the statistics, and they are ugly:
- Purdue's 11.5 points per game is the worst in the Big Ten by far. If you doubled it, it would still be the worst.
- Purdue has rushed for 560 yards, which is more than 500 yards worse than 11th place Illinois.
- Purdue has over 1,200 fewer total yards than 11th place Minnesota.
- Purdue at least has more passing yards than Minnesota, who is 7-2.
- Iowa has the second worst scoring offense in the Big Ten at 25.3 points per game.
- Purdue has given up almost half as many TDs (5) on turnovers as the offense has scored (11)
- Teams are scoring almost four TDs to every TD Purdue scores.
- Purdue needs to score 59 points in the final four games to score more points in Big Ten play than the infamous 1981 Northwestern team, which was shut out four times. The Boilers have 17 points total in the first four Big Ten games.
At the beginning of the year I felt that the games against the I schools on our schedule were the games needed if there were going to be any bowl game. They looked like the four weakest teams and still do. Iowa is the first FBS team Purdue plays that doesn't have a semi-realistic shot at going to a BCS bowl.
On paper at least, Purdue has one of its better shots at getting a victory on Saturday, but it must find a way to improve an offense that is approaching historical levels of awfulness.
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Iowa Offense vs. Purdue Defense
Purdue does not boast a great defense at 37.1 points per game given up, but it has struggled mostly because the offense has been so bad. In five of eight games opponents have scored a touchdown without the defense even being on the field, so it is already playing with a hand tied behind its back in most games. Also, the offense can't stay on the field, wearing down the defense in the second half of games. We saw it against Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Indiana State, where the defense didn't necessarily play that bad, but was worn down by the end because the offense did very little.
They may get more of a chance to rest because the Iowa offense, while better than Purdue's is in a funk at the moment. Purdue has been shutout in consecutive games while Iowa has scored only a single touchdown in regulation in its last two games. Jake Rudock has been somewhat effective at quarterback with 1,725 yards passing and 12 scores against nine interceptions.
The bulk of Iowa's offense tempts the fate of AIRBHG with Mark Weisman (747 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Damon Bullock (370 yards, TD). Rudock can also run a bit with 187 yards and five TDs on the ground. It is a running game that averages 180 yards per game, but has been under 140 yards in each of the last two games.
Rudock spreads the ball around quite a bit. He does not have one receiver that his head and shoulders above the rest. A total of six receiver have over 100 yards and 12 receptions, but no one has more than 300 yards receiving. There is no threat of a downfield passing game. Damond Powell is the closest thing to a deep threat with 12 catches for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Kevonte Martin-Manley has 34 catches, but only 282 receiving yards. This tells me we should cover him on the underneath routes. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has the most receiving TDs with four.
What scares me is that the Iowa offensive line is solid, having given up only seven sacks. Rudock should have plenty of time to pick apart Purdue, especially on third downs, and there will be holes for Weisman and Bullock. They are led by Brett Van Sloten as the lone senior up front.
With that line Iowa can afford to be patient against Purdue, which fits right in with their offensive philosophy. We could see a similar game to the Michigan State game where the Hawkeyes do just enough on offense and trust their defense to stop what has been a deplorable Purdue attack.
Purdue Offense vs. Iowa Defense
The bad news for Purdue is that the Iowa defense is not bad. It rates fourth in the Big Ten at 19.2 points per game and Purdue scored a grand total of 10 points against the three teams ahead of them. The run defense is giving up about 150 yards per game, but the pass defense is pretty solid and second in the Big Ten at 186.6 yards per game.
James Morris will be tough to hold down as he has 76 tackles and five sacks at linebacker. Anthony Hitchens (86 tackles and two sacks) pairs very well with Morris, who is a nightmare against the short range passes. Morris also has a team-high three interceptions along with Tanner Miller and B.J. Lowery.
The defensive line is pretty average, but is helped great by the linebackers behind them. Drew Ott and Carl Davis give them a couple of strong players up front, but most of the pass rush comes from the linebackers. The secondary with John Lowdermilk, Desmond King, Miller, and Lowery is one of the best in the Big Ten too.
Iowa probably doesn't need to do a whole lot on defense because of how awful Purdue's offense has been. As we have seen week in and week out, the offensive line cannot open a hole, cannot protect the quarterback, and there is no consistency whatsoever from the skill players. Akeem Hunt averaged 8.7 yards as a freshman and 8 yards as a sophomore on each carry, but is down to 3.7 this year on twice as many attempts. He still rates as Purdue's best offensive player.
It probably can't be worse right now. Purdue hasn't run a single play in the red zone in its last three games. I've been closer to scoring than Purdue, mostly because my seats are on the 15 yard line. Of its 11 touchdowns one was on a trick kickoff return, a second came from a fumble recovery inside an opponent's 10 yard line, and a third came in the waning seconds against basically a scout team defense. The offense can't even move the ball into scoring position right now and it is getting worse.
Last season was a big highlight for Paul Griggs, as he nailed a long field goal as time expired to give the Boilers their first win in Iowa City in 20 years. He enters this game, however, having not attempted a field goal in three weeks and having not made one since hitting from 47 yards against Northern Illinois. On the other side, Mike Meyer is making his field goals when Iowa gets in range, hitting on 13 of 17. He hit three last week in the loss to Wisconsin.
Martin-Manley give Iowa a huge advantage in the punt return game over Frankie Williams. Martin-Manley has returned two of his 12 punt returns for touchdowns with a long of 83 yards.
The fans over at Black Heart Gold Pants do not have a lot of confidence in the Hawkeye offense at this point. This is with an offense that has scored more than twice as much as Purdue and runs with the efficiency of Baylor by comparison. They don't have to be that good to beat Purdue.
Only two teams have scored fewer points than our Boilermakers in all of FBS football this season. Purdue has scored 92, 1-7 Florida International has scored 91, and 0-8 Miami (OH) has scored 90. For the school the prides itself on being the Cradle of Quarterbacks and the originator of Basketball on grass it is a sad, sad time.
Purdue has a very long way to go just to be able to score some points, much less win a football game. It doesn't matter what the defense and special teams does as long as the offense continues to be so inept. I have seen nothing in recent weeks that shows me there is a corner to be turned.
Keep bragging rights against OMHR if:
- Purdue finds an offense of any kind, be it running, passing, or Danny Etling firing the ball downfield out of his rear-end.
- The Iowa offense continues to be as milquetoast as the last two weeks.
- Purdue's defense generates multiple turnovers.
- A Michigan State game-level from the defense occurs.
Remind Iowa that Nile Kinnick was a freaking saint if:
- Purdue continues to have no offense whatsoever.
- Weisman and Bullock grind drivers out on the ground.
- Purdue gives up another defensive score.