Austin Appleby? If you’re an observant college football fan, you know who that is. Even if you’re just a more casual Iowa fan, chances are you’ve probably heard of him before. Why? Because, well, he played the Hawkeyes three times as a Boilermaker.
About a week ago, Jim McElwain announced that Appleby would be the starting quarterback for the Gators in the Outback Bowl, and if you want to read a little bit about how that decision came to be, then check out this article written by SB Nation’s Florida Gators blog, Alligator Army. The comments section there also seems pretty indifferent about him as a quarterback, so the fanbase doesn’t seem to be all that concerned with whether or not he’s quarterbacking the Gators against the Hawkeyes.
One thing they didn’t go over, however, was Appleby’s history against Iowa. There’s not a whole lot to read into, really, because you’d assume that he’s gotten better as he’s gotten older. More importantly, though, Florida is not Purdue. Jim McElwain is not Darrell Hazell. Appleby is definitely in a better situation than the one he had as a Boilermaker. And of course, Appleby will be starting this game instead of having to come off the bench.
That’s not going to stop me from taking a look at his performances against Iowa, though - he was the one throwing the passes, of course. How has Appleby himself fared against the Hawkeyes? Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- In 2013, Appleby came off the bench with the Boilermakers down 38-7. Not great! Naturally, with a team down by that much, you’d expect them to air the ball out a bit, and that’s what they did with Appleby under center. He completed 5/6 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in his lone drive of the game, which isn’t that bad. However, you’d have to take into consideration that he did this against Iowa’s reserves, who had entered the game with the Hawkeyes up big against a futile opponent. Still, not too shabby for a freshman.
- Appleby once again came off the bench for the final Purdue drive in 2014 against the Hawkeyes, but this time, he didn’t do so hot. With the Boilermakers down 24-10, Appleby came in and threw an interception in his only drive of the game while going 2/6 for 11 yards. That’s, uh, really bad, and it should be noted that this year, he did play against Iowa’s starters.
- In 2015, you’ll never guess what happened. Iowa played Purdue, and Austin Appleby came off the bench again! This time, he came in before the final drive, as Purdue’s David Blough went down early in the game with an injury. In 2015, Appleby threw for 259 yards and a touchdown on 23/40 passing on a frigid day. You all might remember this game as the one that clinched the Big Ten West for Iowa in that very special season, so Purdue obviously was unable to defeat the Hawks in this one. Appleby didn’t light up the scoreboard, but he performed pretty admirably considering the circumstances and was able to jumpstart his team’s offense after they went down 20-0.
In total, Appleby has gone 30/52 for 338 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception against the Hawkeyes. That’s not too bad considering he played for a Purdue team that was horrendous during his three seasons in West Lafayette. In his career, he’s been a fairly average quarterback, but even as an average quarterback, I feel as though he’s has some modest success against Iowa. He’s also 3-3 as a starter this season and has put up the best numbers of his career, so you'd expect him to outperform those numbers from previous years. Right?
What say you, Hawkeye fans? Do you think this is the game he finally goes out a winner against Iowa? How do you feel about facing someone so familiar with the Hawkeyes in January?