Back in June I said Purdue would win in Iowa City.
Earlier this week I said I felt strangely good about this game.
Even in yesterday’s predictions I called for a win.
Let’s put some stats up:
· Purdue now has consecutive wins in games where it has played a No. 2 ranked team.
· Purdue now has the most wins as an unranked team over a top 2 opponent of any program in the country ever with nine.
· It was the 13th overall win over an AP #1 or #2 team in program history, trailing only Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and USC.
· Purdue grabbed its first road win over a top 5 team since beating Notre Dame 31-20 on September 28, 1974.
· Purdue moved to 4-1 against Kirk Ferentz under Jeff Brohm, an incredible stat considering how good Ferentz and Iowa usually are.
· David Bell now has 37 receptions for 558 yards and five touchdowns in three games against Iowa. This legally makes him the Governor of Iowa. I do not make their laws.
· Purdue leads the Big Ten West and may have the inside track towards winning the division.
· Purdue’s much maligned defense now has three games this season where it has given up 10 points or less, something that has not happened since Joe Tiller’s first team in 1997 and it had only been done twice PERIOD under Brohm before this year (Missouri 2017 and Illinois 2018)
· There is a chance, however small, Purdue will be in the top 25 some time tomorrow for the first time since 2007, ending the longest active streak outside the top 25 for a Power 5 program.
I admit that the the Big Ten West point there is a longshot, as it means dropping only one more game at most while getting some help, but still. At best, the path to a bowl game is now wide open with only two more wins needed and both Northwestern and Indiana sitting at the end.
I knew Purdue had a chance to win, but to be dominant? To intercept Spencer Petras four times when he had only thrown two on the season and Purdue had only intercepted two all year? To win by three scores? To sit on the No. 2 team in America and not give up a point in the second half despite two big special teams returns and multiple red zone trips? Why am I still asking questions? I’m Ron Burgundy?
Jeff Brohm just owns Kirk Ferentz at this point. Given a week off to plan he coached circles around the veteran leader. He ran a three quarterback system, sometimes with all three playing on three consecutive plays, and somehow made it work. Aidan O’Connell was masterful in limiting turnovers. He was 30 of 40 for 375 yards, 2 TDs, and zero interceptions against the best defensive secondary in America. He absolutely smoked them, playing calm and only forcing maybe one throw late. The only turnover came via the dumbest rule in all of sports, and it just prevented the blowout from being worse.
Purdue’s offensive line played its best game of the season. O’Connell did well on roll outs, but often had plenty of time for Bell to get open. Purdue was 9 of 16 on third downs and many were third and longs that broke the will of that Iowa defense. The running game didn’t do much, but it did just enough to get Iowa off balance. There were little plays in there too, like King Doerue opening the critical drive with 11 minutes left with a 9 yard run. Again, Purdue didn’t score, but it milked five minutes off the clock and flipped the field. With Iowa’s offense struggling, that was huge.
Then there is Purdue’s defense, holy lord. George Karlaftis was a terror. Cam Allen got two interceptions. Kieren Douglas’ early pick didn’t result in a score, but it kept Iowa from scoring after a big play on its opening possession. That’s as good as getting a score, really.
Much of the aplomb will go to Bell, who absolutely owns every single member of the Iowa secondary, but this was a complete team win. It was clear there was a path for Purdue to win. It needed to limit turnovers, be patient offensively, get a big game from bell, and make Iowa’s struggling offense play catch up. It did exactly that, and beat the No. 2 in America on its home field by three scores.
For all the doom and gloom of two weeks ago at this time we now have a ton of excitement. Anything seems possible, except maybe walking into the ‘shoe and smacking Ohio State again (but if they want to do that I am fine with it).
For whatever reason, Iowa is an excellent matchup for Purdue. A large reason is the sheer conservative nature bordering on cowardice from Kirk Ferentz. Just before halftime Iowa was in position to at least take a Hail Mary, but strangely took a knee, like we were going to run a pick back 100 yards for a score. With 11 minutes left and trailing by 17 the Hawkeyes decided to try consecutive QB sneaks, coming up short and turning the ball over on downs. Instead of trying something else he went into the teeth of the defense and lost. That basically clinched the game. He freezes against Brohm, and Brohm knows how to figure out his defense.
Purdue gave up just six first downs in the second half, and five came after Purdue was up 24-7. Purdue out-Iowa’d Iowa by controlling the clock and simply keeping their offense off the field. As the game wore on even the potential of a “Purdue” died away because the Boilers were the better team all afternoon, and it was very obvious.
Purdue walked onto the field of the No. 2 team in American and kicked their ass at their own game for 3.5 hours.
What a win. The season is successfully turned around now. Now go make the most of it by ending the streak against Wisconsin.