This week on Matchup to Watch, we look to the Iowa offense to show absolutely any sign of life against this lauded Purdue defense.
In its last three games, Purdue has allowed an average of 370 total yards to its opponents, which isn’t great! It’s really not that bad, either. Iowa, however, just so happens to be coming off a game where it netted 66 yards of offense against the Wisconsin Badgers. So who the hell knows what’s going to happen here.
Here’s what you need to know about the Purdue defense: the Boilers have 58 tackles for a loss on the year. That’s pretty good! Iowa, in comparison, has 50. Purdue inarguably has an easier schedule than Iowa, but still give the Boilermakers some credit. They have the players to get pressure on the QB and disrupt the running game in backfields.
And one of those players is Gelen Robinson. (Fun fact: he’s Glenn Robinson III’s brother!) Robinson is tied for the lead on Purdue with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks (both of which came against Nebraska). He leads a front that has caused some headaches for teams trying to run the ball the last three weeks, and that’s not a great thing depending on the type offense Iowa chooses to trot out Saturday.
If Iowa decides it wants to run the ball on first, second and third down, then we’re going to be in for a long day in a frigid Kinnick Stadium. If Iowa can figure out its passing game ... again, then we should have no trouble! Tanner friggin’ Lee passed for 471 yards and 2 scores with no interceptions (!) against this Purdue team three weeks ago, so I see no reason why Nate Stanley can’t replicate the same stat line in Iowa City.
Clayton Thorson was able to pass for 296 yards and a score against Purdue last week as well, so really we should be looking for Nate Stanley to have himself a day here.
HOWEVAH, we know this Iowa offensive scheme isn’t always tailored to “player’s strengths,” and “the other team,” and “weather conditions,” and “common sense,” so we’re going to get whatever we’re going to get Saturday. I have no doubt James Butler and Akrum Wadley can find some success on the ground, but the offensive line’s showing against Wisconsin last week has me worried over the safety of everyone who touches the ball.
Behind Gelen Robinson there’s Ja’Whaun Bentley. He leads the Boilers with 81 tackles, and is tied with Robinson’s 9.5 TFL. In total, Purdue’s front 7 really isn’t anything to sneeze at; and while Purdue is no Wisconsin, I’d still hope Brian Ferentz and the staff aren’t taking the Boilers D lightly.
And while Purdue’s defense vs. Iowa’s offense is the thing I’m most worried about in a game that has Iowa favored by 7.5 points, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quarterback situation going on with Purdue.
After a carousel of David Blough and Elijah Sindelar throughout the season, Sindelar has been thrust into the starting role after Blough broke his ankle against Illinois.
The Purdue coaching staff has full confidence in Sindelar, who chucked it 60 friggin’ times against Northwestern last week. I’d say Iowa is in a pretty decent position if we’re in a place where the opposing QB has to throw it 60 times.
So in sum: Iowa faces a 4-6 Purdue team at home Saturday. It’s gonna be senior day. I’m not sure what Iowa’s record is on senior day, but I bet it’s decent. Purdue has a formidable front-seven, but it’s still probably not even a top-5 unit the Hawkeyes have seen this year. Purdue is breaking in a new-ish QB, and Iowa has had trouble getting to opposing QBs all season long. Josh Jackson has helped ease some of those pains, however.
In sum, I fully expect an easy Iowa victory, but will not be surprised if the offense just lays a goose egg and see Gelen Robinson or Ja’Whaun Bentley earn B1G Defensive POTW honors on Monday.