Despite spotting Iowa a 14 point lead to start the game (or close to it anyway) Purdue found a way to fight back and actually make the game respectable. Don't get me wrong, a loss is a loss, but Purdue actually did show some things today despite a lackluster effort at times. Iowa is a good team there's no denying that. Purdue hung with them for about three quarters today. I don't know if that means Purdue is turning a corner or going in a direction but I know it at least made for an entertaining game for a little bit this afternoon.
Purdue's defense came out in sleepwalking mode today by allowing Iowa to simply drive down the field with little to no resistance on two possessions in the first quarter to take a quick 14-0 lead. At that point I think the majority of Purdue fans were switching over to basketball if they hadn't done so already. Then in the second quarter Iowa scored on another drive following a fumble by Blough. Blough really got his bell rung on what looked like a helmet to helmet hit. Iowa would get the PAT blocked and just like that the score was 20-0. It was over. Right? Well as our good friend Lee Corso says, "NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!". Cue heroic music and enter Austin Appleby.
After the benching for Blough I naturally assumed we wouldn't see Appleby again this year unless an injury occurred. Sure enough on the injury to Blough Appleby came trotting onto the field in the second quarter and would stay for the remainder of the game. The offense looked the same on his first drive but he was able to engineer a nice touchdown drive on his second series. Purdue was down just 20-7 with plenty of time left. To make that hope simmer up in your belly Purdue forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing Iowa drive. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, Purdue would get down to the Iowa three and would settle for a field goal attempt which was...good...is that allowed? Purdue went into the half down just 20-10. Appleby started the game a crisp 9-9. What is it about being a backup QB under Hazell that makes you better? Is too much coaching from this staff a bad thing?
After trading punts to start the third quarter Purdue again drove deep into Iowa territory and had to settle for yet another field goal which was made by Paul Griggs. Purdue was able to make it all the way down to the Iowa six but just couldn't punch it in. Griggs made two field goals today which is more field goals than he even attempted throughout the rest of the conference season. Purdue was down 20-13 but easily could have been up 21-20 if they had simply been able to punch it in from the redzone. That's just so frustrating. Some of that is playcalling and some of that is on the Iowa defense for tightening up but either way when you are playing the #5 team in the nation you can't get down into the redzone and not convert on those opportunities.
Purdue would get another drive deep in Iowa territory as they were down on the Iowa 34 yard line but instead of going for it on fourth down they chose to chicken out and go for the punt. What's the logic behind that one? I honestly have no idea why that would have happened. You have absolutely nothing to lose by going for it there. Purdue isn't going to a bowl game, they aren't getting a winning season, but they have a chance to spoil an opponent's season. You have to take every chance to do just that. Purdue did no such thing and instead punted it away. What a shame. Oddly enough later on Purdue would be on their side of the 50 yard line and would convert a fake punt. There's just no logic to the playcalling at times. It boggles the mind.
Purdue would tack on one more touchdown in the fourth quarter but it wouldn't mean anything. The Purdue defense would allow Iowa to score 40 points and convert on numerous important third downs. The most obvious play was the 3rd and 9 toss to a wide open tight end over the middle that led to an Iowa touchdown. It was the most Purdue way to allow a touchdown. It had all the elements Purdue is known for, third and long, close game, tight end, over the middle, easy TD. At the time it was 20-13 but the defense allowed a 91 yard drive including that back breaking 3rd down conversion to push the deficit to 27-13.
I want to give special attention to Jake Replogle who played one heck of a game with at least a couple of sacks. The guy has improved leaps and bounds and is one of the bright spots on this Purdue team that is darker than a sith lord's side of the force. At the end of the day this is another loss. Remember a few years back when Iowa fans wanted their coach gone? Now they are 11-0 and heading to the conference championship while being ranked #5 in the nation. I'm not saying that Purdue is on a similar track at all I just want to point out that things can change drastically over a couple of years. To counter that positive thought I'll let you know that Iowa has 11 wins while Purdue doesn't have that many wins under Hazell in his three seasons as head coach. Gotta balance the positive with the negative. Hey, at least basketball won though!