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Iowa Football Opponent Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

Can the Hawks bounce back?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Following a major upset and complete annihilation of Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes two weeks ago, much was made about how the Hawkeyes would perform on the road against a physical Wisconsin team and well…we got our answer.

In the contest, Iowa defensive back Josh Jackson once again shined with not just one but two pick-sixes, including one on the Badgers’ first offensive possession of the game. Unfortunately, Jackson would be the lone representative for the Hawkeyes on the scoreboard last Saturday, as the Hawkeyes on offense would only go on to muster 66 total yards in a 38-14 loss to the Badgers.

A new week brings a new opponent, so let’s take an in-depth look at this year’s Purdue Boilermakers.

Purdue On Offense

Under center this season, the Boilermakers have featured two quarterbacks in sophomore Elijah Sindelar and junior David Blough. However, it hasn’t been due to them having opposite skill sets, in fact, as players the two are very much alike; they just haven’t been able to perform well with consistency. Barring injury on Saturday, the Hawks will exclusively face Sindelar, as Blough was lost for the season two weeks prior in a victory over Illinois.

Coming into this Saturday, Sindelar has to be feeling somewhat confident, as he completed 37 passes on 60 attempts for 376 yards and two touchdowns last week in a loss to the Northwestern Wildcats.

In the loss, Sindelar turned out one of his better performances of the season, as he was able to hit tight-window throws and perform much better in the second half following a rocky start in the first.

As a passer, Sindelar is slightly above average in regards to arm strength and showed flashes in the few games I watched with both accuracy and ball placement. In addition, Sindelar isn’t a bad athlete and can extend the pocket with his legs if needed but he’s not a real threat to take off downfield. With that said, the consistently apparent flaw that jumps off the screen every time you watch him play is that he has a bad tendency of staring down receivers and trying to force throws to guys who are double covered or just aren’t open. That could mean another big day for this ball-hawking Iowa secondary.

Another name to mention for the Boilermakers on offense is junior running back D.J. Knox.

With the ball in hands, Knox is fully capable of breaking off a big play and has done so on many occasions, as he’s physical, dense, quick, and explosive enough to break away from defenders. On offense, the Boilermakers try to get the ball in his hands both on the ground and through the air, and he’s proven that he can be effective and productive in both phases.

He’s a player to keep an eye on this Saturday.

Purdue On Defense

In the trenches for Purdue, senior defensive end Gelen Robinson is the headliner coming into Saturday, as he comes into the contest with 9.5 tackles for loss on the season.

On film, Robinson hasn’t shown to be a consistent penetrator at defensive end. However, when you watch him against Nebraska and Michigan from earlier on in the season, you can clearly see that when everything’s clicking he can make a serious impact on the game.

At linebacker, the Boilermakers feature a trio led by star Ja’Whuan Bentley, which also includes sophomore Markus Bailey and senior T.J. McCollum.

As a player, Bentley is a guy who the Boilermakers just let fly around the field on defense, as he consistently is making big plays in the backfield against the run and even holds up well in coverage when asked to.

Last weekend, athletic linebackers caused the Hawkeyes offense a lot of problems and this week, they’ll once again be facing a similar challenge.

What To Expect

Last Saturday, the Hawkeyes and the Hawkeye fanbase came hurtling back down to Earth with a crushing loss at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers and as a result, a lot of attention has been placed — deservedly so — on the offense this week.

For the Boilermakers, this is the first time since 2012 that the program has experienced a four-win season, as well as two Big Ten wins in one season. It’s safe to say that this program is on the rise under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm and it’ll be exciting to see what happens in the coming years.

With that said, as stingy as the Boilermakers have shown they can be this season, they still haven’t been able to put it together completely on offense and as we sit here ready in week 12, there’s no reason to believe that that’ll change come Saturday.

I expect this Boilermaker team to hang around for most of the game but the Hawkeyes should still be able to pull out a victory when it’s all said and done.